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Full text of "The Harvard classics Volume 7"

^ \. 




ST. MICHAELS COLLEGE 

TORONTO, CANADA 



LIBRARY 



PJ^ESENTED fly 



J- J, McKnight 




THE HARVARD CLASSICS 
EDITED BY CHARLES W. ELIOT^ LL.D. 

The Confessions of 
St Augustine 

TRAJJSLATED BY EDWARD B. PUSEV 

The Imitation of Christ 

hy Thomas A. Keinpis 

TRANSLATED BV WILLIAM 0ENHAM 
VVi//i Iniroducilons and NtJ/^j 




P, F. Collier & Son Corporation 

NEW YOR K 



By p. e, CuLLlty it &M 



UANuyj^ctuAiU] ih^ u. :^^ A. 




MAY 2 7 1953 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 



PAGE 



THE FIRST HOOK 



Confes&ians oi the ^rcatncf^ and uns&archabli^ntss of God^ ^ GchJ's mercies in 
iti^ancy :incl boyhooOt and huninin v^ilfulne?^; fyf. his c^wn sans ol idknes^, 
3bLi» of hi^ siudiESH and ciE Gud's j;ifts up lo his fifteenth yejr f. .^ « « ^ 

THE SECOND KXJK 

Object of chc^e Cftnfesiftn^ Further iHs of idleness developed Ln his fiixtecmh 
year. £viLi oE ill ^Chzieiy, ^vbinti beLr^jed him into Uwft m 

THE THIRD BOOK 

Hi5 rciidencf at Canhigc from his seventeenth to his nineteenth ytat. Saur« 
of hji di^rden. Lta^e oi ihows. Adv-incc in ^tudiL^^j and love of wisdom* 
Distaste ioT Scripture. Led astrav to the Manich.irans. Refutaiic^n nf sofne 
nf cheJr tenets. Gri^E of his niother Monnica at his hereby, an^l prayers for 
his conversic^n. Her vision tfom God, ;ind ans^ver through a Bishogj . . 31 

THE FOURTH EOOK 

Auyiisilnts lifE? from nineteen to eichc-and-twent^^: himself a Mimicharan, and 
3edut:in|; gathers to tho same heresy; parOniJ obedwnce amidst v^inicy and sin; 
consuLting dsrrobciirsH only partially- shjktn h[?reini loss flf an cjrly inund, 
who h convertc^d h^ being b;f]iti^ i^hen in ^ s-^^oon: rc^/b^^uona un gfiefn on 
real and unrcj] Iricnd^hlpn and love of flmt; wriiti on ^'the fair and fit." yet 
cannot rij^htly, lhou>;h Cod bad gi^'en him ^reat tisJents, since he efirerfainnJ 
wron^ notions of God^ and $0 even his iLnowk-d^e he applied ill ... . 4^ 

THE FIFTH BOOK 

St. Auguitine's tiv^ntj-ninth year. Fau^Lus, a snare of Sacan tt^ many^ made an 
instrument nf tfLliver^nce to St. Au^usCtn^, hv shnwin^^ the ignorance ^f th*^ 
M^ntchees on thoM! ihings wherein rhey pro^psstd wi hive divine knnwledee. 
Augustine pives V]> \^\] thoHEht oE gt^lnt! funhcr j^monc the M&fiwihLei: Is 
^ni^ted to Rome and Milan, whrre he htar=i Si_ Ambrose, leaves Che M3nir:heesH 
and becomes a^ain a Catechumen jn ihn Church C^ithol^c . , « . . 6z 

THE SIXTH ROOK 

Arrival of Monrticn at Milan: her nhcdienct to St. Ambrose, and hii value (or 
her; St. Amhcciie's habirsE Auj^u^iine's cradnal aljandonmenl of crrori nndi 
that he has blamed rhe Clmrch Catholic wroflgly^ desire of ab=:oluce certainty. 
but icruck with the ctjoirars- .inaloirv of Clod's natural Pr^^vtdencp: how shaken 
in his woridly pursuits: God'i guidance of his friend Alypiu^s Augustine 
debater with himself and his friends aExjut their mode? of lilt; lii^ inveterate 
sins, and dread ol iudgment * * * . 79 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 



THE SEVENTH UOOK 



PACK 



AuyuiUnt'^ rhjriy-firit year: gr^id^ally eKirjc^^c^l fcpm his crr&r^. but st5H with 
niatenal conceptions c.ii tJod^ much ai^lwl l^' an ar;,^]^icnt ui N'cbitdiuji sc« 
iliat the C2u^e of sin lies in frM-wiM^ rcjfi;^^ the? M=iiiii;bjL:ui hereby, but [Z^titinL 
^ltcn;e'thcr cnibr-icc the dotcrinc uf cht Churi:h; rft.^vcrcd Eroni the belief in 
Astrolo^', but miserably pL^cptcsed iboui iht nri^in ai cvih ii led to find in 
the Plutonlsts tht sc^mIs n£ i\\L^ doctrine o( Lhc divinity of the WonDj hitt not ol 
Hii hujuilinUionL Ju^ncc ht^ ^hhtnin^ clc:Li-4:r noiirtrts oJ Cod's maicst^p bui, nui 
knowing Christ to be die MLtiiaior, remains estranged from Huii^ all hh 
doubts ^^^Tnovtd by Kh^ ititdy oE Holy Scripuire, espcciaUy St- Paul + * ► 9ft 

THE EIGHTH BOOK 

Auf;ustine*s thjrt>'-*£iflnd ycar_ He consults SlrTii^llelanus; from liim hears the 
hiitoFy of the conveiEJoA of Vlc;To^inU5, and L^F3K■^ ^o devoie himself entirely 
to GwJp but 13 ini^tL-rtd by his old hibir^^ is silll further roused by the history 
of St. Antony, and of the eonvenilon of two courtiers: during a severe 
f.tru>:^[e hear^ a voiee (^^^tn hi^aven^ open.-? Suripture, and is concerted, with 
his fnend AlypLus. Hi^ mother's vision^ fulfilled ElB 

THE NINTH BOOK 

AfciRt^siint dtccrt^inw tfl devntc his life to God, and to abandon Hi; prcifesstoD 
of RhtToriCj (juieily howe^itr; retirees to the eouniry to prepare himself to 
receive the ^raee [>f I^apti^m, and is baptised with Alypuis and his son 
Adeodatus. At Ostia, on his way to African his mother Monnica dieSp in her 
(^fty'sixth yeaTp the thirty-third of Au^ju^tine. Her Jife and character v ^ I3S 

1HE TENTH BOOK 

Having In ihe former books spoken of himself b^ior^ hlf rKcivmg ihc grace ot 
BisplismH in this Au^^ustcne confesses whnt he ch^^n was. But fir^t he enquires 
by ^hat faculty wt tan know God at all: whence lie enlarges nn The 
mystBrioias character of the memoryn wherein Godi being ittAd^ known, 
dweiUh but whkh could not discover Him. Then he c^Omines his own ti'iflts 
untltr the cri(>lc di^-ismn of rcmpt^itiOHf "lusc of the (!c;sh, Nsr ftf the eyes, 
and prlde^j ^vhar Chrhci:5ci ecmilfa^^nef prescribes as to eich- On Ch^iit The 
Only Mediator, who heals and wi][ ht^al jll inCirmid^ , *. ^ ;-- * ^- Jw 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

AuRELiLTs AucDSTiNus, beiiGf known as Saint AugusEtnCp was born of 
poor parents in the small town o£ Thagasie jn Numidia, North Africa^ 
A.D. 354* His father, Pairkius, a pagan of somewha[ loose hf^^, was con- 
vened to Christianky before his deaih; his moiher Monnica, on account 
of her per^ional pietj" and her influence on her son^ is one of the most 
revered women in ihe history of the Christian Church. Augustine was 
educated at the University of Carthage^ and according to his own account 
belongt^d to a iti^i 5et and joined in their dissipations. While there he 
enceted into a relation which lasted for fourteen years vvith a young 
won^jin who becam*; the moiher of his son Adeodatus; and he joined 
the heretical Sf^ct of the Manichtans^ who professed to have received 
from their foundetj Manes^ a higher form of iruEh dian that taught by 
Christ- At the close of his university career, which had been brilliant in 
spite of distractions, ho returned to his native town, and first ihere^ and 
later in C^fthage and Ron^e, he practised as a teacher of rhtitonc, [raining 
young la^^7ers in the art of pleading- By the time lie was about twenty- 
seven he had begun to have doubts as to the validity of Manichxism, 
but it was not till 387^ while he was Professor of Rhetoric in the Uni- 
versity of Milan, that he was converted to Catholic Chrisdanity, and 
received baptism. He now gave up his profession and became an ascetic^ 
studying the foundations of the faith^ wriling, chiefly against his former 
iecc, and conversing v%ith a gtoup oE disciples, first at Rome and then 
in his native town* When he was on a visit to Hippo, noc far from 
Thagaste^ he was forced into the priesthood, and in 395 he became Bishop 
of Hippo, an oi£ce which he lulled for the ^^:maining thirty-five years of 
his life* Though he took a leading part in the activities of the African 
Church through all this time, and gradualEy became one of the most dis^ 
tingujshed ecclesiastical figures in the Empire, the care of his diocese 
and the writing of his books formed his chief occupations- He continued 
to lead a life of extreme simplicity and self-denial^ and in his epi^opal 
establishment he trained a large number of disciples who betamc leaders 
in the Church, 1 he strength of his hold on these younger men was due 
not merely to his intellectual ascendency, but also to the charm and 
sweetness of his dispoiition. 

A large part of his literary activity was devoted to controversy with 
the heretics of his lime, lirst the Manichsans, then [he Donaitsts, and 
finally the Pelagians. It was in his writings against these last aiid most 

i 



4 INTRODUCTORY KOTE 

important opponents that he elaborated his ^[atcmenc of the doctrines o£ 
Predestination, Irresistible Grace and Final Perseverance, through which 
he has left his chief mark upon the creeds of later limes. The theology 
of the Schoolmen, such as Thomas Aquinas, ant! of the CaWinisti of 
the Reformation^ is buik upon an Augustinian basis^ 

His two most important books are "The City of God" and the ''Con- 
fessions." The former of these was provoked by [he attacks upon Chris- 
tianity^ routed by the disasters that began to fall upon the Western 
Empire in the begfnning of die fifth century; and Augustine replies by 
pomijng out the failure of the heathen gods in former ttmcs to protect 
the peoples who trusted in them, and goes on to expose the evil influence 
of the beli*;f in the old mythology, in a minute examination of its tradi- 
tions and mysteries- The second part of the book deals with the history 
of the "City of Man/' founded upon love ot self, and of the "City o£ 
God/' founded upon love of God asid contempt of self. This work is 
a vast storehouse of the knowledge of the timej and is a monument not 
only to Augustine's great leatnin^jj but also to tlie keenest metaphysical 
mind of the age- 

7'he "Confessions," here printed^ speaks for itself, Tlie earliest of auto- 
biographies, it remains unsurpassed ds a sincere and intimate record of 
a great and pious soul laid bare before God* 



THE CONFESSIONS OF 

ST. AUGUSTINE 

THE FIRST BOOK 

Confessions oE the gteatne^s and unsearchabfeness of God, of God's 
mercies in infancy and boyhood^ and hurnan wilfulness; of his own 
sin* of idiencss* abuse o£ liis studies, and of God's gifts up [o hir 
fifteenth year. 

^"^REA T an Thotr, O Lord, ani greatly to he praised] great is 
m __ Thy poii/sr, and Thy wisdom infinite.^ And Thee would 
V_^ man priiise; man, but a particle of Thy creation; man» that 
bears about him his mortality, the witness of his sin, the witness that 
Thoit resistesi the proud'^ yet would man praise Thee; he, but a 
particle of Thy creation. Thou awakes: us to lielight in Thy praise; 
for Thou raades: us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, uniil 
it repose in Thee, Grant me, Lord, to know and understand which 
is first, to call on Thee or to praise Thee^ and, again, to know Thee 
or to call on TheeF for who can call on Thee, not knowing Thee? 
for he that knoweth Thee not, may call on Thee as other than Thou 
art. Or, is it rather, that we call on Thee that we may know Thee? 
But hoiv shdl they call on Him in whom they have not believed? 
or how shall they believe without a preacher?^ and they that see}{ 
the Lord shall praise Him .* for they that Jff^ shall find Him^ and 
ihcy that find shall praise Him. I will seek Thee, Lord, by calling 
on Thee; and will call on Thee, believing in Thee; for to us hast 
Thou been preached. My faith, Lord, shall call on Thee, which 
Thou hast given me, wherewith Thou hast inspired me, ihrough the 
Incarnation of Thy Son, through the ministry of the Preacher. 

And how shall 1 call upon my God. my God and Lord, since, 
when I call for Him, 1 shall be calling Him to myselfF and what 

^Ps. tslv, j; «[vii. 5, 'Jjs. iv. £; I Per. v, 5, 'itom, t, rj. 
* Pi. usiL i6- ^ MiH. vti. -J. 

5 



6 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

room is there within mc^ whither my God can come Iniio me? 
whither can God come into me, God who made heaven and earth? 
is ihere, indeed, O Lord my God» aughi in mc [hji can contain 
Thee? do then heaven and earth, which Thou hast made» and 
wherein Thou hasE made me, contain Thee: or, because nothing 
which exists could exbt without Thee, doth therefore whatever ex- 
ists contain Thee? Since, rhen, I too exisr, why do I seek that Thou 
sbouldest enter into me, who were not, wert Thou not in me? 
Why? because I am not gone down in hell, and yet Thou arE there 
also. For ij I go down into hcil, Thou art there^ I could not be 
then, O my God, could not be at all, werL Thou not in me; or, rather, 
unless I ^vere in Thee, oj tinhorn are alt things, by whom are ell 
things, in whom are ail things?^ Even so. Lord, even so. Whidicr 
do I call Thee, since 1 am in Thee? or whence canst Thou enter into 
me? for whither can 1 go beyond heaven and earth, that ihence my 
God should come into mca who hath said^ / fdl the heaven and the 
earth ^ 

Do Ebe heaven and earth then contain Thee, since thou fiUest 
them? or dost Thou fill them and yet overflow, since they do not 
conrain Tbee? And whither, when the heaven and the earth are 
filled, pourest Thou forth the remainder of Thyself? or hast Thou 
no need that aught contain Thee, who containest all things, since 
what Thou fillest Thou fillcst by containing it? for the vessels which 
Thou fillest uphold Thee not, since, though ihey were broken^ Thou 
wert not poured out. And when Thou art poured ouf on us, Thou 
art not cast down, but Thou uplifiest us; Thou art not dissipaiedj 
but Thou gatherest us. But Thou who fillest all things, fillest Thou 
them wiih Thy whole self? or, since all things cannot contain Thee 
vvhoIJy, do they contain part oE Thee? and all at once the same part? 
or each its own part, the greater more, the smaller less? And is, then, 
one part of Thee greater, another less? or, art Thou wholly every- 
where, while nothing contains Thee \vholly? 

What art Thou then, my God? what, but the Lord God? For 
who if Lord but the Lord? or who is God saue our God?'° Most 
highest, most good, most potent, most omnipotent; most merciful, 
yet most just; most hidden, yet most present" most beautiful, yet 

^Pi. tsim- 7, 'Rom. xi.36. ^Jer. :i?<iii. 2^. ^A^i ii- 1&. 'Ti. xviiir 31., 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE J 

most strong; stable, yet incomprehensible; unchangeable, yet all- 
changing; never new, never old; iill-renewing, and bringing age 
upon the proud, and they l{notv it not; ever working, ever at resi; 
slill gaiheiing, yet nothing lacking; supporting^ fillings and over- 
spreading; creaiing, nourishing, and maturing; seeking, yet having 
all things. Thou loves:, wiihout passion; jirt jealous, without anxiety; 
repeniest, yet gricvest not; art angry, yet serene; changes: Thy works, 
Thy purpose unchanged; receives: again what Thou findesi, yet dids; 
never lose; never in need, yet rejoicing in gains; never covetous, yet 
exacting usury/' Thou receivesc over and above, that Thou mayest 
owe; and who hath aught that is not Thine? Thou payest debts, 
owing nothing; remitiest debts, losing nothing. And what have T 
DOW said, my God, my life, my holy joy? or what saith any man 
when he speaks of Thee? Yet woe to him that speakeih not, since 
mute are even the most eioquent. 

OhT that I might repose on Thee! Oh! that Thou wouldest enter 
into my heart, and inebriate it, that I may forger my ills, and em- 
brace Thee, my sole good? What art Thou to mc? In Thy pity, 
leach me to utter it. Or what am 1 to Thee that Thou demandest 
my love, and, if J give it not, art wroth with me, and ihreaienest me 
with grievous woes? Ts it then a slight woe to love Thee not? Oh! 
for Thy mercies' sake^ tell mc, O Lord my God, what Thou art unto 
me. Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation" So speak, that 1 mjiy 
hear. Behold, Lord, my heart is before Thee; open Thou the ears 
thereof, and say unto my soul. 1 am thy sahathu. After this voice 
let me haste, and take hold on Thee, Hide not Thy face from me. 
Let me die — Test I die — only let me see Thy face. 

Narrow is the mansion of my soul; enlarge Thou it, that Thou 
mayest enter in. It is ruinous; repair Thou it. It has that within 
which must offend Thine eyes; I confess and know it. But who shall 
cleanse it? or to whom should 1 cry, save Thee? Lord, cleanse me 
jrom my secret jaidti and spare Thy servant from the potver of the 
£nemy" 1 believe, and t/icrejorc do I speat{}* Lord. Tliou knowest. 
Have J not confessed against myself rny transgressions unto Thee, 
and Thou, my God, hast forgiven the iniquity of my heart?^^ I con' 



8 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

tend not in judgment with Thee'^ who art the truth; I fear to de- 
ceive myself; lest mine iniquity lis unto itsdf}^ Therefore I contend 
not In judgment witJi Thee; jar if Thou, Lord, shouldest marl{^ 
iniquities, Lord, who shall abide /^?'" 

Yet sulTer me to speak unto Thy mercy, me, dust and asfies}^ 
Yet suder me to speakj since I speak to Thy mercy, and not to 
scornful man. Thou too, perhaps, despisest me, yet wilt Thou return 
and have compassior^'^ upon me. For what would I say, O Lord my 
God, but that I know not whence I c^me into this dying life (ahal! 
I call it?) or hving death. Then immediaicly did the comforts of 
Thy compnssion take me up, as I heard (for I rememher it not) from 
the parents of my flesh, out of whose substance Thou didst some- 
time fashion me. Thus there received me the comforts of woman*s 
milk. For neither my mother nor my nurses stored their own breasts 
for me; but Thou didst bestow the food of my infancy through them, 
according to Thine ordinance, whereby Thou distributest Thy 
riches through the hidden springs of all things. Thou also gavest me 
to desire no more than Thou g,ive?,t; and to my nurses willingly to 
give me what Thou gavest them. For they, with a heaven-taught 
affectionj willingly gave me what they abounded with from Thee. 
For this my good from them, was good for them. Nor, indeed, from 
them was it, but through ihem; for from Thee, O God, are all good 
things, and jrom ray God is ail my heaUh. This 1 since learned, 
Thou, through these Thy gifts, within me and without, proclaiming 
Thyself unto me. For then I knew but to suck^ to repose in what 
pleased, and cry at what offended my flesh; nothing more. 

Afterwards I began to smile; Hrsi in sleep, then wakingr for so 
it was told me of myself, and I believed it; for we see the hke in 
other infants, though of myself I remember it not. Thus, litde by 
litde, I became conscious where 1 was; and to have a wish to express 
my wishes to those who could content them, and 1 could nor; for 
the wishes were within me, and they without; nor could they hy any 
sense of theirs enter within my spirit. So I flung about at random 
limbs and voice, making the few signs I could, and such as J could, 
like, though in truth very little like, what I wished. And when I 
was not presently obeyed (my wishes being hurtful or unrntelhgible), 
'«jDbLx,3- "Ps. ^^vL la.— Vulg, "P!-<:y\x, 5. "Gen. kvIII. 27- ^^Jer. :iu. ig. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

ihen 1 was indfgnant wiih my ddcrs for no: submilling to me» with 
those owing me no service^ for noE serving me; and avenged myself 
on them by lears. Such have I learnt infants to be from observing 
them; and that i was myself 5iich» [hey, ail unconscious, have shown 
me beiier ihan my nurses who knew it. 

And, lo! my infancy died long since, and I live. But Thou, Lord, 
who for ever livesi, and in whom nothing dies: for before the foun- 
dation of the worUis, and before all that can be called "before,*' Thou 
an, and art Gud and Lord o£ all which Thou hast created: in Thee 
abide, Rxed for ever, the first causes of alL things unabiding; and 
of all things changeable, the springs abide in Thee unchangeable: 
and in Thee live tlie eternal reasons of all things unreasoning and 
temporal. Say, Lord, to me. Thy suppliani; say, ail-pitying, to me. 
Thy pitiable one; say, did my infancy succeed another age of mine 
that died before it? was it that which I spent within my mother*s 
womb? for of that 1 have heard somewhat, and have myself seen 
women with child? and what before that life again, O God my 
joy, was I any where or any bodyp For this have 1 none to tell me, 
neither father nor mother, nor experience of others, nor mine own 
memory. Dost Thou mock me for asking this, and bid me praise 
Thee and acknowledge Thee, for chat I do know? 

I acknowledge Thee, Lord of heaven and eardi, and praise Thee 
for my first rudiments of being, and my infancy, whereof 1 remem- 
ber nothing; for Thou hast appointed that man should from others 
guess much as to himself; and believe much on the strength of weak 
females. Even then I had being and life, and (at my infancy's close) 
I could seek for signs whereby to make known to others my sensa- 
tions. Whence could such a being be, save from Thee, Lord? Shall 
any be his own artificer? or can there elsewhere be derived any 
vein, which may stream essence and life into us, save from Thee, 
O Lord, in whom essence and life are one? for Thou Thyself art 
supremely Essence and Life, For Thou art most high, and art not 
c/ianged" neither in Thee doth to-day come to a close; yet in Thee 
doth it come to a close; because all such things also are in Thee. 
For they had no way to pass away, unless Thou upheldest ihcm. 
And since Thy years fail not^^ Thy years are one to-day. How many 

s'M-Mii, (5, "Ps. cii. 27- 



10 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

of ours and our fathers' years have flowed away through Thy 
"lo-day/" and from it received the measure and ihe mould of such 
being as they had; and still others shall flow away, and so receive 
ihe mould of their degree of being. But Thau art still the same" and 
ail things o£ to-morrow, and all beyond, and all of yesterday, and all 
behind it, Thou hast done to-day. What Is it to me, though any 
comprehend not this? Let him also rejoice and say, What thing is 
this^-^ Let him rejoice even thus; and be content rather by not 
discovering to discover Thee^ than by discovering not to discover 
Thee. 

Hear, O God. Alas, for man's sinT So saith man, and Thou 
pitiest him; for Thou madest him, but sin in him Thou madcst not. 
Who remindeih me of the sins of my infancy? for in Thy sight none 
is pitrc jrom sin. not even the infajjt whose life is but a day upon 
theearth:'^ Who remindethmc? doth not each little infant. In whom 
I see what of myself I remember not? What then was my srn? was 
it that I hung upon the breast and cried? for should 1 nov/ so do for 
food suitable to my age, justly should 1 be laughed at and reproved. 
What I then did was worthy reproof; but since Z could not under- 
stand reproof, custom and reason forbade me to be reproved. For 
those habits, when grown, we root out and cast awjy. Now no man, 
though he prunes, wittingly casts away what is good." Or was it 
then good, even for a while, to cry for what, if given, would hurt? 
bitterly to resent, that persons free, and its own elders, yea, the 
very authors of its birth, served it not? that many besides, wiser than 
it, obeyed not the nod of its good pleasure? to do its best to strike 
and hurt, because commands were nor obeyed, which had been 
obeyed to its hurt? The weakness then of infant limbs, not its will, 
is its innocence. Myself have seen and known even a baby envious; 
it could not speak, yet it turned pale and looked bitterly o^ its foster- 
brother. Who knows not this? Mothers and nurses tell you that 
they allay these things by 1 know not what remedies. Is that too 
innocence, when the fountain of milk is flowing in rich abundance, 
not to endure one to share it, though in extremes! need, and whose 
very life as yet depends thereon? We bear gently with all this, not 
as being no or slight evils, but because they will disappear as years 

^iPs. ui, 17, ^*Ej;od. :tvL ig. -^Job AXV. 4. ^JoJid kv- 2, 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE II 

mcrease; for, though tolerated now, the very same tempers are 
utterly intolciable when found in riper years. 

Thou, then, O Lord my God, who gavesl h£e to this my infancy, 
furnishing ihus wiili senses (as we see) die fEumc Thou gavest, 
compacting its limbs, ornamenting its proportions, and for its gen- 
eral good and safety, impbniing in it all vital functions. Thou com- 
mandest me fo praise Thee in these things, to confess unto Thee, 
and sing unto Thy namt:. Thou most Highest}^ For Thou art God, 
Almighty and Good, even had^t Thou done nought but only this, 
which none could do but Thou; whose Unity is die mould of ail 
things; who out of Thy own fairness makest all things fair; and 
orderest all things by Thy law. This age, then, Lord, whereo£ 1 
have no remembrance, which I take on others' word, and gue^s from 
other infants that I have passed, true though die guess be, I am 
yer loth to count in this life of mine which I live in this world. For 
no less than that which 1 spent in my mother's womb, is it hid from 
me in the shadows of forgetfulness. But if / was shapen in iniquity . 
and in sin did my moiher conceive me^ where* \ beseech Thee, O 
my God, where^ Lord, or when, was I Thy servant guildess? But, 
lo! that period I pass by; and what have I now to do with that, of 
which I can recall no vestige? 

Passing hence from infancy, I came to boyhood, or rather it came 
to me, displacing infancy. Nor did that depart, — (for whither went 
it?) — and yet it was no more. For 1 was no longer a speechless in- 
fant, but a speaking boy. This 1 remember; and have since observed 
how I learned to speak. Tt was not that my elders taught me words 
(as, soon after, other learning) in any set method; but I, longing 
by cries and broken accents and various motions of my limbs to 
G?:pres5 my thoughts, that so I might have my will, and yet unable 
to express all 1 willed, or to whom 1 willed, did myself, by die 
understanding which Thou, my God, gavest me, pracdse the sounds 
in m;y memory. When they named any thing, and as they spoke, 
turned towards it, I saw and remembered that they called what 
they would point out by the name they uttered. And that ihey meant 
this thing and no odier was plain from the motion of [heir body, 
the natural language, as it ^vere, of all nations^ expressed by the 



13 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE 

countenirnce, glances of the eye^ gestures of the limbs, and tones of 
rhe voice, indicaiing nhc affpcuions of the mind, as it pursues, pos- 
sesses, rejects, or shuns. And thus by constantly hearing wordsj as 
they occurred in various sentences, I collected gradually for whil 
ihey stood; and having broken in my mouth lo these signs, I thereby 
gave utterance to my will. Thus 1 exchanged with those about me 
these current signs of oor wills, and so bunched deeper into the 
stormy intercourse of human life, yet depending on paiental au- 
thority and the beck of elders, 

O God my God, what miseries and mockeries did I now experi- 
ence, when obedience to my teachers was proposed to me, as proper 
in a boy, in order that in this world I might prosper, and excel in 
tongue-scjence, which should serve to the "praise of men," and to 
deceicEul riches. Next I was put to school to get learning, in which 
1 (poor wretch) knew not what use there was; and yet, if idle in 
learning, [ was beaten. For this was jiidged right by our forefathers; 
and many, passing ihe same course before us, framed for us weary 
paths, through which we were fain to pass; multiplying toil and grief 
upon the sons of Adam. But, Lord, we found that men called upon 
Tliee, and we learnt from them to think of Thee {according to our 
powers) as of some great One, who, though hidden from our senses, 
couldsi hear and help us. For so I began, as a boy, to pray to Thee, 
my aid and refuge; and broke the fetters ot my tongue to call on 
Thee, praying Thee, though small, yet with no small earnestness, 
that 1 might not be beaten at school. And when Thou heardst me 
not {not thereby giving me ouer to joily^-), my elders, yea, my very 
parents, who yet wished me no ill, mocked my stripes, my then 
great and grievous ilk 

Is there, Lord, any of soul so great, and cleaving to Thee with so 
intense affection (for a sort of stupidity wilt in a way do it); but is 
there any one who, from cleaving devoutly to Thee, is endued with 
so great a spirit, that he can think as lightly of the racks and hooks 
and other torments (against which, throughout all lands, men call 
on Thee with extreme dread), mocking at those by whom they are 
feared most bitterly, as our parents mocked the torments which we 
suiTered in boyhood from otir masters? For we feared not our tor- 



^' 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE I3 

menisless; nor prayed wa less to Thee to escape them. And yet we 
siimed, in writing or reading or studying less than was exacted of 
lis. For we warned not, O Lord, memory or capacity, whereof Thy 
will gave etiough for out age; bu: our sole delight was play; and 
£or this we were punished by those who yet themselves were doing 
the like. But elder folks' Idleness is called '^business"; that of boys, 
being really the same, is punished by those elders; and none com- 
miserates either boys or men. For will any of sound discretion ap- 
prove of my being beaten as a boy, because, by playing at ball, I 
made less progress in studies which 1 was to learn, only that, as a 
man, 1 might play more unbeseemingly? and what else did he who 
beat me? who, if worsted in some trifling discussion with his fellow- 
tutor, was more embittered and jealous than I when beaten at ball by 
a playfellow? 

And yet, 1 sinned herein, O Lord God, the Creator and Disposer 
of all things in nature, of sin the Disposer^" only, O Lord my God, I 
sinned in transgressing the commands of my parents and those my 
masters. For what they, with whatever motive, would have me 
learn, 1 might afterwards have put to good use. For T disobeyed, not 
from a better choice, but from love of pljy, loving the pride of vic- 
tory in my contests, and to have my ears tickled with lying fables, 
that they might itch the more- the same curiosity flashing from my 
eyes more and more, for the shows and games of my elders. Yet 
those who give these shows are in such esteem, that almost all wish 
the same for their children, and yet are very willing that they should 
be beaten, if those very games detain them from the studies, whereby 
they would have them attain to be the givers of them. IjDok with 
pity, Lord, on these things, and deliver us who call upon Thee now; 
deliver those too who call not: on Thee yeCj that they may tall on 
Thee, and Thou mayest deliver them. 

As a boy, then, I had already heard of an eternal life, promised 
us through the humility of die Lord our God stooping to our pride; 
and even from the womb of my mother, who greatly hoped in Thee, 
I was sealed with the mark of His cross and salted with His s.ik. 
Thou sawestj Lord, how wh[lc yet a boy, being seized on a time with 
sudden oppression of the stomach, and hke near to death— Thou 

^^Ordinatyr, 



i. 



14 T^E CONFESSIONS OF ST- AUGUSTINE 

sawest, my God (br Thou wert my keeper), with what eagerness 
and what faith 1 sought, from the pious cyce o£ my mother and Thy 
Church, the mother of us all, the baptism of Thy Christ my God and 
Lord. Whereupon the mother of my flesh, being much troubled 
(since, with ;i heart pure En Thy faith, she even more lovingly ira- 
vailed in birih" of my sjilvation), would in eager haste have provided 
for my consecration and cleansing by the health-giving ijcraments, 
confessing Thee, Lord Jesus, for the remission of sins, unless I had 
suddenly recovered. And so, as if I must needs be iigain polluted 
should I live, my ciean&ing was deferred, because the defilements of 
sjn would, after th^t washing, bring grciter and more perilous guilt- 
I then already believed: and my mother, and the whole household 
except my father: yec did not he prevail over the po^ver of my 
moiher^s piety in me, that as he did not yet believe, so neither should 
L For it was her earnest care ihat Thou my God, rather ihan he, 
shouldest be my father; and in this Thou didst aid her to prevail 
over her husband, whom she, the beirter, obeyed, therein also obey- 
ing Thee, who hast so commanded, 

I beseech Thee, my God, 1 would fain know, if so Thou wiliest, 
for what purpose my baptism was ihen deferred? was it for my good 
that the rein "wss laid loose, as it were, upon mc, for me to sinf* or 
was It no: laid loose? If not, why does it siitl echo in our ears on 
ail sides, "Let him alone, let hiin do as he will, for he is not yet 
baptised?" but as to bodily health, no one says, "Lei him be worse 
wounded, for he is not yet healed.'^ How much better then, had 1 
been at once healed ^ and then by my friends' diligence and my own, 
my soul's recovered health had been kept safe In Thy keeping who 
gavest it. Better truly. But how many and great waves of tempta- 
tion seemed to hang over me after my boyhoodf These my mother 
foresaw; and preferred to expose to them the clay whence I might 
afterwards be moulded, than the very cast, when made. 

In boyhood itself, however (so much less dreaded for mc than 
youth), I loved not study, and hated to be forced to it. Yet I was 
forced; and diis was well done towards me, but 1 did not well; for, 
unless forced, I had not learnt. But no one doth well against his 
will, evea though what he doth, be well. Yet neither did they well 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE I5 

who forced me. but whai was well came to me from Thee» my God. 
For ihey were regardless how I should employ whaE ihey forced me 
to learn, excepr lo satmie the insatiate desires of a wealthy beggary, 
and a shameful glory. BuC Thou, by whom the t/ery hairs of our head 
arc niiJnheredi^^ didst use tor my good the error of ai[ who urged me 
to learn; and my own, who would not learn, Thou didit use for my 
punishment — a fit penaky for one, so small a boy and so great a 
sinner. So by those who did not well, Thou didsi well for me; and 
by my own sin Thou didst justly punish me. For Thou hast com- 
manded, and so it isj that every inordinate affection should be its 
own punishment. 

But why did I so much hate the Greeks which I studied as a boy? 
I do not yer fuUy know. For the Latin 1 loved; not what my first 
masters, but what the su-Ciilled grammarians taught me. For those 
first lessons, reading, writing, and arithmetic, I thought as great a 
burden and penalty as any Greek- And yet whence was this too, but 
from the sin and vanicy o£ this life, because / tf/ns fiesh, and a breath 
that pass/^th away and cometh not again?^ For Ehose first lessons 
were belter cercninly, because more certain; by ihem 1 obtained, and 
still retain, the power of reading what I hnd written and myself 
writing what I will; whereas in the others, 1 was forced to learn the 
wanderings of one ^neas, forgetful oE my own, and to weep for 
dead Dido, because she killed herself for love; the while, with dry 
eyes, I endured my miserable self dying among these things, far 
from Thee, O God my life. 

For what more miserable than a miserable being who commiser- 
ates not himself; weeping the death of Dido for love to ^neas, but 
weeping not his own death for want of love to Thee, D God. Thou 
light of my heart. Thou bread of my inmost soul, Thou Power who 
givest vigour to my mind, who quickenest my thoughts, I loved Thee 
not. I committed fornication against Thee, and all around me thus 
fornicating there echoed, "Well done! well donef" jor the jriend- 
ship of ihii world is jornication against Thce;^'' and "Well donel 
well done!" echoes on till one is ashamed to be thus a man. And all 
this 1 wept not, 1 who wept for Dido slain, and "seeking by die 
sword a stroke and wound extreme," myself seeking the wljile a 



l6 THE CONFESSIONS Of ST. AUGUSTINE 

worse extreme, the exuempat and lowesi: of Thy creatures, having 
forsaken Thee^ earth passing into the canh. And i£ forbid to read 
all this, 1 was grieved that 1 might not read what grieved me. Mad- 
ness Uke this is thought a higher and a richer learning, than that 
by which I learned to read and write. 

Hat now» my God^ cry Thou aloud in my soul; and let Thy truth 
lell me» "Not so, not so. Far better was that first study." For, lo, 1 
would readily forget the wanderings oi ^Eneas and all the rest, 
raiher than hoiv to read and write. But over the entrance o£ the 
Grammar School is a veil drawn! true; yet is thb not so much an 
emblem of aught recondite, as a cloak of error. Let not those, whom 
T no longer fear, cry out against me, while I confess to Thee, my 
God, whatever my soul will, and acquiesce in the condemnation of 
my evil ways, that 1 may love Thy good ways. Let not either buyers 
or sellers of grammar-learning cry out against me. For if I question 
them whether it be true that ^neas came on a lime to Carthage, 
as the poet tells, the less learned wdl reply that they know not, the 
more learned that he never did. But should I ask with what letters 
the name 'VEncas" is written, every one who has learnt this will 
answer me aright, as to the signs which men have conventionally 
settled. If again, I should ask which might be forgotten with least 
detriment to the concerns of life, reading and writing or these poetic 
iietions? who docs not foresee what all must answer who have not 
wholly forgotten themselves? 1 sinned, then, when as a boy I pre- 
ferred those empty to ihose more profitable studies, or rather loved 
the one and hated the other. "One and one, two;*' "two and two, 
fouri" this was to me a hateful singsong: '^[he wooden horse lined 
with armed m.en," and '^the burning of Troy,"" and ''Creusa's shade 
and sad similitude," were the choice spectacle of my vanity. 

Why then did I hate the Greek classics, which have the like 
tales? For Homer also curiously wove the like fictions, and is most 
sweetly-vain, yet was he bitter to my boyish taste. And so T suppose 
would Virgil be lo Grecian children, when forced to learn him as 
1 was Homer, Difficulty, in truth, the difficulty of a foreign tongue, 
dashed, as it were, with gall all the sweetness o£ Grecian fable. For 
not one word of it did I understand, and to make me understand I 

"-^fl. a. 



THE C0NFESSTO^^S OF ST, AUGUSTINE X^ 

was urged vehemently with crud threats and punishmenrs. Time 
was also (as an infant) I knew no Laiin; but rhis I learned wiihout 
fear or suiTering, by mere observation, amid the caresses o£ my 
nursery and jests of friends, smiling and sportively encouraging me. 
This I learned without any pressure of punishment to urge me on, 
for my heart urged me to give birth to its conceptions :vhich I could 
only do by learning words not of those who taught, but of those 
who talked with me; in whose ears also 1 gave birth to the thoughts, 
whatever 1 conceived. No doubt, then^ that a free curiosity has more 
force in our learning these things, than a frightful enforcement. 
Only this enforcement restrains the rovings of that freedom, through 
Thy laws, O my God, Thy laws, from the master's cane to the mar- 
tyr*s trials, being able to lempet for us a wholesome bitter, recalling 
us to Thyself from that deathly pleasure which lures us from Thee. 
Hear, Lord, my prayer; let not my soul faint under Thy disci- 
pline, nor let me faint in confessing unto Thee all Thy mercies, 
whereby Thou hasc drawn me out o£ all my most evil ways, that 
Thou mightest become a delight to me above all the allurements 
which I once pursued; that J may most entirely love Thee, and clasp 
Thy hand with all my alTeciJons, and Thou mayest yet rescue me 
from every temptation, even unto the end. For, lo, O Lord, my King 
and my God, for Thy service be whatever useful thing my childhood 
learned; for Thy service, that I speak, write, read, reckon. For 
Thou didst grant me Thy disciplincj while I was learning vanities; 
and my sin of delighting in those vanities Thou hast forgiven. In 
them, indeed, I learnt many a useful word, but these may as well be 
learned in things not vain; and that is the safe path for the steps 
of youth. 

But woe is thee, thou torrent of human custom! Who shall stand 
against thee I" how long shah thou not be dried up? how long roll 
the sons of Eve into that huge and hideous ocean, which even they 
scarcely overpass who cUmb the cross.'* Did not 1 read in thee of 
Jove the thunderer and the adulterer? both, doubdess, he could not 
be; but so the feigned thunder might countenance and pander to 
real adultery. And now which of our gowned masters lends a sober 
ear to one who from their own school cries out, "These were Homer's 
fictions, transferring things htmian to the gods; would he bad 

I 

I 



i 



I& THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

brought down things divme to usl" Yet more truly had he said, 
"These are indeed his fictions; but aiiribiJling a. divine nature to 
wicked men, ihat crirocs might be no longer crime^^ ^^'^ whoso com- 
mitj; them might seem to imitate not abandoned men^ but the 
celestial gods/' 

And yet, thou hellish torrent, Into thee arc cast the sons of men 
with rich rewards, for compassing such learning; and a great solem- 
nity is made oE it, when this is going on in ihe forum, within sight 
of laws appointing a salary beside the scholar^s payments, and thou 
lashest ihy rocks and roarest, "Hence words are learnt; hence elo- 
quence; most necessary to gain your ends» or maintain opinions." As 
if we should have never known such words as "golden showerj" 
*'lap," "beguile," "temples of the heavens," or others in that passage, 
unless Terence had brought a lewd youth upon the stage, setting up 
Jupiter as his example of seduction. 

"Viewing a picture, where the talc was drawn, 
Of Jove's descending in a golden ihowcr 
To Danac's lap, a woman lo licguile," 

And then mark how he excites himself to lust as by celestial author- 
ity: 

"And what God? Great Jove, 
Who shakes heaven's highest temples with his thunder, 
And ]. poor mtirral man, not do the samel 
I did it. and with all my hc:irf T did it." 

Not one whit more easily are the words learnt for all this vrleness; 
but by their means the vileness is committed with less sliame. Not 
that i blame the words, being, as it were, choice and ptecious vessels; 
but that wine of error which is drunk to us in them by intoxicated 
teachers; and if wg, too, drink not, we are beaten, and have no sober 
judge to whom we may appeal. Yel, O my God (in whose pres- 
ence 1 now without hurt may remember this), all this unh,ippily I 
leatnt willingly with great delight, and for this was pronounced a 
hopeful boy. 

Bear with me, my God, while I say somewhat of ray wit. Thy gift, 
and on what dotage I wasted it- For a task was set me, troublesome 
enough to my soul, upon terms of praise or shame, and fear of stripes, 



THE CONPESSiONS OF ST- AUGUSTINE ig 

10 ^pf^sk the words of Juno, as she raged and mourned fhar she could 
not 

*'Thia Trojan prince from Latium turn." 

Which words I had heard jhai: Juno never uttered; but we were 
forced to go astray in the footsteps of these poetic fictions, and to 
say in prose much what he expressed in verse. And his speaking was 
most applauded, in whom the passions o£ rage and grief were most 
pre-eminent^ and clothed in the most fitting language, mainiaining 
the dignity of the character. What is it to me, O my true hfe, my 
God, thai my dcclamaiion was applauded above so many of my own 
age and chss? is not all this smoke and wind? and w^s [here nothing 
else whereon too^ercise my wit and tongue? Thy praises, Lord, Thy 
praises might have stayed the yet tender shoot of roy heart by the 
prop o£ Thy Scriptures; so had IE not trailed awLsy amid these empty 
trifles, a deEiled prey for die fowls of the air. For in more ways than 
one do men sacrifice to the rebellious angels. 

But what marvel that 1 was thus carried away to vanities, and 
went from Thy presence, Q my God, when men were set before me 
as models, who, if in relating some action o£ theirs, in itself not ill, 
they committed some barbarism or solecism, being censured, were 
abashed; but when in rich and adorned and well-ordered discourse 
they related their own disordered life, being bepraised, they gloried? 
These things Thou seesE, Lord, and boldest Thy peace; long-iii§£f' 
tjjg, and pleiileniis in mercy end lyuth^ Wilt Thou hold Thy peace 
for ever? and even now Thou drawest out of this horrible gu[f the 
soul that seeketb Thee, that thirsteth for Thy pleasures, whose heart 
saith unto Thee, I havs sought Thy face; Thy jace. Lord, will 1 
seel^^'' For dari^ened'^ a/Tcciions is removal from Thee. For it is 
not by our feet, or change of plate, that men leave Thee, or return 
unto Thee. Or did that Thy younger son look out for horses or 
chariots, or ships, fly with visible wings, or journey by the motion of 
his limbs, that he might in a far country waste in riotous living all 
Thou gavest at his departure? a loving Father, when Thou gavest, 
and more loving unto him, when he returned empty. So then in 
lustful, that is, in darkened affeetions, is the true distance from 
Thy face. 



20 TtlE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

Behold, O X-ord God, yejj) behold patiently as Thou arl wont, 
how carefully the sons o£ men observe the covenanted rules o£ let- 
ters and syllables received from those who spake before ihem, oeg- 
lecdng the eiernal covenant of everlasting salviition received from 
Thee. Insomuch, ihat a teacher or learner of the hereditary laws of 
pronunciation will more ofTcnd men by speaking without the as- 
piiate^ of a "uman being/' in despite of the laws of grammar, than if 
he, a "human being/* hate a *'human being" in despite of Thine. 
As if any enemy could be more hurtful than the hatred wiih which 
he is incensed against him; or could wouud mote deeply him whom 
he persecutes^ than ho wounds his own soul by his enmity. Assuredly 
no science of letters can be so innate as the record of conscience, "that 
he is doing to another what from another he would be loath to 
suffer." How deep are Thy ways, O God, Thou only great, that 
sittest silent on high^^ and by an unwearied law dispensing penal 
bHndness to lawless desires. In quest oE the fame of eloquence, a 
man standing before a human judge, surrounded by a human 
throng, declaiming against his enemy with fiercest hatred, will take 
heed most watchfully, lest, by an error of the tongue, he murder the 
word "human being"; but takes no heed, lest, through the fury 
of his spirit, he murder the real human being. 

This was the world at whose gate unhappy T lay in my boyhood; 
[his the stage where I hatl feared more to commit a barbarism, than 
having commiiied one, to envy those who had not. These things T 
speak and confess to Thee, my God; for which I had praise from 
them, whom 1 then thought it all virtue to please. For I saw not the 
abyss of vileness, wherein / was cast away jrotn Thine eyes.*" Before 
them what more foul than 1 was already, displeasing even such as 
myself? with innumerable lies deceiving my tutor, my masters, my 
parents, from love of phiy, eagerness lo see vain shows and restless- 
ness to imitate themf Thefts also I committed, from my parents' 
cellar and table, enslaved by greediness, or that 1 might have lo give 
to boys, who sold me their play, which all the while they hked no 
less than 1. In this play, loo, I often sought unfair conquests, con- 
quered myself meanwhile by vain desire of pre-eminence. And what 
could I so ill endure, or, when 1 detected it, upbraided I so fiercely, 

™Jn. xA\iii. 3. ^Pi. TJTui. S2' 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINTI 21 

js that T was <Ioing to others? and for which jf, deiecied* I was up- 
braided, 1 chose raihcr to quarrel ih^n to yield. And is this the inrnv 
cence of boyhoodr' Not so. Lord, not so; I cry Thy mercy, O my 
God- For these very sins^ as riper ytars succeed, these very sins are 
transferred from luiors and masters, from nuLs and balls and spar- 
rows, to magistrates and kings, to gold and manors and slaves, just 
as severer punishments displace the cane. It wa.s the low statute then 
of childhood which Thon our King didst commend as an emblem 
of lowliness, when Thou saidst, Of such is the !{ingdorn of /icafen" 
Yet, Lord, to Thee, the Creator and Governor of the unisersc, 
most excellent ;ind most good, thanks weie due to Thee our Cod, 
even hadst Thou destined for me boyhood only. For even then I 
was, I Jived^ :ind felt; and had implanted providence over my well- 
being — a trace o£ that mysterious Unity whence I was derived: I 
guarded by the inw;ird sense the entireness of my senses, and in these 
minute pursuits, and in my thoughts on things minute, I learni to 
delight in trudi, I hated to be deceived, had a vigorous memory, was 
gifted with speech, ;vas soothed by friendship, avoided pain, base- 
ness, ignorance. In so small a creatare, what was not ivonderful, not 
admirable? But all are gifts of my God: it was not I who gave them 
me; and good these are, and these together are myself. Good, then, 
is He that made me, and He is my good; and before Him will I 
exult for every good which of a boy I had. For it was my sin, that not 
in Him, but in His creatures — myself and others — I sought for 
pleasures, sublimities, truths, and so fell headlong into sorrows, con- 
fusions, errors. Thanks he to Thee, my joy and my glory and my 
confidence, my God, th,inks be to Thee for Thy gifts; hut do Thou 
preserve them to me. For so wilt Thou preserve me, and those things 
shall be enlarged and perfected which Thou hast given me, and I 
myself shall be with Thee, since even to he Thou hast given me. 

^'Milt. ait. 14, 



b 



THE SECOND EOOK- 

Object of these Confessioii5r Further ills of idleness developed in his 
sixteenth year. Evils of ill society, which betrayed him iiiio theft* 

I WILL now call w mind my past foulness* and Ehe carnal cor- 
ruptions of my 50tjl; not because 1 love them, but that I may 
love Thee* O my God- For love of Thy love I do if; reviewing 
my most wicked ways in the very bitterness of my remembrance, 
that Thoti mayesi grow sweet unro Tue (Thou sweetness never fail- 
ing, Thou blissful and assured siveetness); and gathering me again 
out of that my dissipation, wherein I was corn piecemeal, while 
turned from Thee, the One Good, I lost myself among a multiplicity 
of things. For I even burnt in my youth heretofore, to be satiated 
in things below; and I dared to grow wild again, with these various 
and shadowy loves: my beauty comumed away, and I stank in 
Thine eyes; pleasing myself, and desirous to please in the eyes of 
men- 

And wh;iE was it that I deKghted in, bat to love, and be beloved? 
but 1 kcpc not the measure of love, of mind to mind, friendship's 
bright boundary'; but out of the muddy concupiscence of the flesh, 
and the bubblings of youth, mists fumed up which beclouded and 
overcast my heart, that 1 could not discern the clear brightness of 
love from [he fog of lustfulness- Both did confusedly boil in me, and 
hurried my unstayed youth over the precipice of unholy desires, and 
sunk me in a gulf of flagitiousnesses- Thy wrath hiid gathered over 
me, and 1 knew it nor. i was grown deaf by the clanking of the 
chain of my mortality, the punishment of the pride of my soul, and 
1 strayed further from Thee, and Thou lettesi me alone, and I was 
tossed about, and wasted, and dissipated, and I boiled over in my 
fornications* and Thou heldest Thy peace, O Thou my tardy joyl 
Thou then heldest Thy peace, and I wandered further and further 
from Thee, into more and more fruitless seed-plots of sorrows, 
;vith a proud dejectedness, and a restless weariness, 

11' 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 2^ 

Oh! rhat some one had ihen aiiempert'd my disorder^ and turned 
ro account [he fleering bc^ucies of these, the exireme puincs of Thy 
creation! had put a bound to their pleasureablcness, that so the lides 
of my yoLUh might have c^si themselves upon the marriage shore, 
if they could not be calmtidj ami kepi within ihc objccc of a fiCtnily, 
as Thy law prescribes, O Lord: who this way formosi the offspring 
of [his our death, being able with a gentle hand to blunt the thorns 
which were excluded from Thy pjradise? For Thy omnipotency is 
not hr from iis> even when we be far from Thcc. Else ou^ht I more 
watchfully to have heeded the voice from the clouds: Nei/erthdess 
such shall have trouble in the flesh, hut I spare you} And it is good 
for a jTJitn not to touch a woman: And, he that Is unmiirricd ihin!^- 
eih of the things of the Lord, hoo' he may please the Lord; hut he 
that is married carelh for the things of this world, how he may please 
his wife? 

To these words I should have lisieifed more attentively, and being 
severed for the i^ingdom of heaven's sa!(e* had more h;ippity awaited 
Thy embraces; but 1, poor wretch, foamed like a troubled sca» icX- 
Towing the rushing of my oivn tide, forsaking Tliee, and exceeded all 
Thy limits- yet T escaped not Thy scourges. For what mortal can} 
Por Thou wen ever with me mercif jjly rigorous, and besprinkling 
with most bitter alloy all my unlawful pleasures: thai I might seek 
pleasures wiiliout alloy. But where to hnd such, I could not discover, 
save in Thee, O Lord^ who teachcst hy sorrour, and wounde^t us, to 
heal; and killesi us, Jest we die from Thee.^ Where was I, and how 
far was 1 exiled From the delights of Thy house, in that sixfeenth 
year of (he age of my flesh, when the madness of lust (to which 
human shamelessness giveth free licence, though unlicensed by Thy 
laws) cook the rule over me, and I resigned myself wholly to it? 
My friends meanwhile took no Ciire by marriage to save my fall; 
their only care was chat I should learn to speak excellently, and be 

a persuasive orator. 

For rliat year were my studies intermitted: whilst after my return 
from Madaura (a neighbour city, whither 1 had journeyed to learn 
grammar and rhetoric), the expenses for a further journey to Car- 
thage were being provided for me^ and that, rather by the resolution 



L 



^ THE GOXfESSlONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

than ihe means of my father, who was bui a poor freeman of Tha- 
gaste. To whom icU I this? nm To Thee, my God; buE before Thee 
to mine own kind, even to ihac small portion o£ mankind as may 
light upon [hese writings of mine. And lo what purpose!' that who- 
soever reads this» may think oat of tvhat depths jfc are to cry unto 
Thi^c^ For what is nearer to Thine ears than a confessing heart, and 
a liie of faiih? Who did not e;;col my father, for that beyond the 
ability of his means, he would furnish his son with all necessaries 
for a far journey for his studies' sakei" For many far abler citizens 
did no such thing for their children. But yet this same father had no 
toncern how I grew towards Thee^ or how chaste I were; so that J 
:vere but copious in speech, however barren 1 were to Tliy cukure, 
O God^ who art the only true and good Lord of Thy field, my heart. 

But while in that my sixteenth year 1 lived with my parents, leav- 
ing all school for a while (a season of idleness being interposed 
through the narrowness of my parents* foriunes), the briers of an- 
dean desires grew rank over my head, and there was no hand lo 
root [hem out. When that my faiher saw me at the baths, now 
growing towards manhood, and endued with a restless youthfulness, 
he, as already hence anticipaimg his descendants, gbdly told it to 
my mother; rejoicing in that tumult of thu senses wherein the world 
forgetteth Thee its Creator, and bccomcth enamoured of Thy crea- 
ture, instead of Thyself, through the fumes of that invisible wine 
of its seif-will, turning aside and bowing down to the very basest 
things. But in my mother's breast Thou hadst: already begun Thy 
temple, and the foundation of Thy holy habitationj whereas my 
father was as yet but a catechumen, and that but recently. She then 
was starded with a holy fear and trembling; and though I was not 
as yet baptised, feared for me those crooked ways in which they walk 
who tarn iheir btic^ to Thee, and not their jac^^ 

Woe is mel and dare I say that Thou heidest Thy peace, O my 
God, while i wandered further from TheeP Didst Thou then indeed 
hold Thy peace to me? And whose but Thine were these words 
which by my mother. Thy faithful one, Thou sangesE in my ears? 
Nothing whereof sunk into my heart, so as to do it. For she wished, 
and I remember in private with great anxiety warned me, '^not to 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE 25 

commit fornicaijon; but espccmJly never 10 defile jcioiher man's 
wife.'* These seemed to me womanish advices, which I should bljsh 
10 obey, Bui they were Thine, and 1 knew ir not; and I ihoughtThou 
Wert silent and that it was she who spake; by whom Thuu wert not 
silent unto mei and in her wast despised by me, her son, the son of 
Thy hsndmaid. Thy servant^ But 1 knew it not; and ran headlong 
with such blindness, that amongst my equah \ was ashamed of a less 
shameiessness, when I heard them boast of their Hagiliousness, yea, 
and the more boasting, the more they were degraded: and I took 
pleasure, not only in the pleasure of the deed, hut in the praiic. What 
is worthy of dispraise but vice? But 1 made myself worse than 1 
was, that I might not be dispraised; and when in any thing 1 had 
not sinned as the abandoned ones, 1 would s-iy that I had done what 
1 had not done, that I might not seem contemptible in proportion as 
1 was innocent; or of Itss account, the more chasie- 

Behold with what companions I walked the streets of Babyfon, 
and wallowed in the mire thereof, as if in a bed of spices and precious 
ointments. And that I might cleave the faster to its very centre, the 
invisible enemy trod me down, and seduced me, for that I was easy 
to be seduced. Neither did the modier of my flesh (who had now 
^sd out of the centre of Babylonf yet went more slowly in the skins 
thereof), as she advised me to chastity, so heed what she had heard 
of me £rom her husbjnd, as to restram within the bounds oi con- 
jugal affection (if ir could not be pared away to the quick) what she 
feir to be pestilent at present and for the future dangerous. She 
heeded not lhis» for she feared lest a wife should prove a clog and 
hindrance to my hopes. Not those hopes of the worid to come, which 
my mother reposed in Thee; but the hope of learnings which both 
my parents were too desirous 1 should attain; my father, because 
he had next to no thought of Thee, and of me but vain conceits; my 
mother, because she accounted that those usual courses of learning 
would not only be no hindrance, but even some furtherance towards 
attaining Thee. For thus I con)ecture, recaihng, as well as 1 may, the 
disposition of my parents. The reins, meantime, were slackened to 
me, beyond all temper of due severity, to spend my time in sport, 
yea, even unto dissoluteness in whatsoever 1 affected. And in all 



i 



20 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE 

was a. mist, intercepting from me, O my God^ ihe brightness of Thy 
icitth; jukI mine iniquity burst out as frani very \atncsiy 

Theft is punisheJ by Thy Lj>w, O Lord, and ihe law written in. 
the hearts o£ men, which im<iuiLy itself eiTaces not. For whac thief 
will ubide y ihtcf? not even ^ rich thic£, one steahng through wnnE. 
Yei I lusted to ihieve, and did it, compelled by no hunger, nor pov- 
erty, but through a cloycdness of well-doing, jnd a pampcredness 
of iniquity. For I stole ih^r, of which I had enough, and much better. 
Nor cared 1 to enjoy what 1 stole, but jovcd in the theft and sin 
itself, A penr tree there was near our vineyard, laden with fruit, 
tempting neither for colour nor taste. To shuke and rob this, some 
lewd yotmg leElows of us went, Tate one night (having according to 
our pestilent custom prolonged our sports in the streets till then), 
and look huge loads, not for our eating, but to fimg to the very hogs, 
having only tasted them. And this, but to do what we liked only, 
because it wai misUkcd. Behold my heart, O God, hchoid my heart, 
which Thou hjdst pity upon in the boctum o[ the bottomle&s pit. 
Now, behold let my heart tell Thee what it sought there, that ! 
should he gratuitously evil^ having no temptation lo ill, but the ill 
itself. It was foul, and 1 loved itj 1 loved to perish, I loved mine own 
fault, not that for which I was faulty, but my fault itself. Foul soul, 
falling from Thy tirmament to utter destruction: not seeking aught 
through the shame, but the shame itself! 

For there is an attractiveness in beautiful bodies, in gold and silver, 
and all things; and in bodily touch, sympathy hath much influence, 
and each other sense hath his proper object answcrably tempered. 
Worldly honour hath also its grace, and the power of overcoming, 
and of masterv; whence springs also the thirst for revenge. But yet, 
to obtain all ihc&e, we may not depart from Tliee, O Lord, nor de- 
cline from Thy law. The life also which here we live hath its own 
enchantment, through a certain proportion of its own, and a corre- 
spondence with all things beautiful here below. Human friendship 
also is endeared with a siveet lie by reason of the unity formed of 
many souls- Upon occasion of all these, and ihc like, is sin com- 
mitted, while through an immoderate inclination towards these 
goods of the lowest order, the belter and higher arc forsaken^ — Thou, 

'* Pi. isxiil, ?. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 27 

our Lord God, Thy iruih, and Thy law. For these lower thing? have 
their delighLs. but not like my God, who made all things; for in 
Hhn doth the righteous ddighs, and He is the joy of the upright in 
heart}' 

When, theti» we ask why a crime was done, we believe it noc, 
unless it appear that fhere might have been some desire oE obtaining 
some of those which wc called lower goods, or a £ear o£ losing them. 
For they are beauiiEal and comely; although compared with those 
higher and beatific goods, they be abject and low. A man hath mur- 
dered another; whyr he loved his wife or his estate; or would rob 
for his own livelihood; or feared to lose some such things by him; 
or, wronged, was on fire to be revenged. Would anv commit mur- 
der upon no cause, delighted simply in murdering? who would be- 
lieve it? for as for that furious and savage man, of whom k h said 
that he was gratuitously evil and cruel, }e[: ib chc cause assigned; 
'lest" (saith he) "dirough idleness hand or heart should grow in- 
active." And to what end? that, through that practice of guilt, he 
might, having taken the city, attain to honours, empire, riches, and 
be freed from fear oi ihe laws, and his embarrassmenii from domes- 
tic needs, and conscioiisness of villainies. So then, not even Catiline 
himself loved his own villainies, but some[hing else, for whose sake 
he did them. 

What then did wretched I so love in ihee, thou theft of mine, thou 
deed of darkness, in that sixtccnih year of my age? Lovely thou 
wert not, because thou wert theft. But art thou any thing, that thus 
1 speak to djee? Fair were the pears we stole, because they were Thy 
creation. Thou fairest of all, Creator of all, Thou good God; God, 
the sovereign good and my true good. Fair were those pears, but 
not them did my wretched soul desire; for I had store of belter, 
and those 1 gathered, only that 1 might steak For, when gathered, 
1 flung them away, my only feast therein being my own sin, which 
I was pleased to enjoy. Por if aught of those pears came within my 
mouth, what sweetened El was the sin. And now, O Lord my God. 
I enquire what in that theft delighted me; and behold it hath no 
loveliness; I mean not such loveliness as in justice and wisdom; nor 
such as is in the mind and memory, and senses, and animal life of 



1^ THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

man; nor yet as the stars are glorious and beautiful in their orbs; 
or the earth, or sea, full of embryo-lifc, replacing by its birth th.it 
which dccaycuh; nay, nor even that false and shado^vy beauty which 
belongeth lo deceiving vices. 

For so doih pride imitaie exalted ness; whereas Thou alone an 
God exalted over all. Anibicion, what leeks it, but honours and 
glory? whereas Thou alone ari to be honoured above all. and glori- 
ous for evermore. The cruelty of the great would fain be feared; but 
who IS to be feared but God alone, out of whose power ivhat can be 
wrested or withdrawn? when, or wherc^ or whither^ or by whom? 
The tendernesses of the wanton would fain be counted love: yet is 
nothing more lender than Thy ch,iriiy; nor is aught loved more 
healthfully than that Thy truth, bright and be;iutif(:l above ail. 
Curiosity makes semblance of a desire of knowledge; whereas Thou 
supremely knowest alK Yea, ignorance and foolishness itself is 
cloaked under the name of simplicity and uninjuriousne&s; because 
nothing is found more single than Thee: and what less injurious, 
since they are his own works which injure the sinner? Yea, sloth 
would fain be at rest; but what stLibb rest besides the Lordp Lux- 
ury affects 10 be called plenty and abundance; but Thou art the 
fulness and never-failing plenteousness of incorruptible pleasures. 
Prodigality presents a shadow of liberality; but Thou art the most 
overflowing Giver of all good. Covetousness would possess many 
things: and Thou possessest all things. Ilnvy disputes for excellency; 
what more excellent than Thou? Anger seeks revenge: who re- 
venges more justly than Thou? Fear siardes at things unwonted 
and 5udden. which endanger things beloved, and takes forethought 
for their safely; but to Thee what un^vonted or sudden, or who 
separatelh from Thee what Thou lovest?'" Or where but with Thee 
is unshaken safety? Grief pines away for things lostj die delight of 
its desires; because it would have iiotliing taken from it, as nothing 
can from Thee. 

Thus doth the soul commit fornication, when she turns from 
Thee, seeking without Thee, what she findeth not pure and un- 
tainted, till she returns to Thee, Thus all pervertedly imitate Thee, 
who remove far from Thee, and lift themselves up against Thee. 
But even by thus imitating Thee, they imply Thee to be the Creator 

"Rom. viii. ci. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 29 

of all raiure; whence there is no place whiihcr altogether to retire 
from Thcc. What then did I love in that ihcfr? and wherein did 
1 even corruptly and pervertedly imitare my Lord? Did I wish even 
by stealth to do conirary 10 Thy law^ because by power 1 could not, 
so that being a prisoner, I might mimic a maimed iibeiiy by doing 
with impunity things unpermitted me, a darkened likeness of Thy 
Omnipotency? Behold, Thy servant, Reeing from his Lord, and ob- 
taining a shadow.'^ O rottenness, O monstrousness of life, and depth 
o£ death! could I like whirc 1 might not, only because 1 might not? 

W/iat shall I tender unto the Lord," that, whilst my memory 
recalls these things, my sonl is not affrighted at ihem? / ri/ili lout 
Thee, O Lord, and thanf^ Thee, and confess unto Thy name; be- 
cause Thou hast forgiven me these so great and heinous deeds of 
mine. To Thy grace I ascribe Ir, and to Thy mercy, that Thou hast 
melted away my sins as it were ice. To Thy grace I ascribe also 
whatsoever I have not done of evil; for what might I not have done» 
who even loved a sin for its own sake? Yea, all I confess to have 
been forgiven me; both what evils I committed by own wilfulness, 
and what by Thy guidance I committed not. What man is he, who, 
weighing his own intirmiiy, dares to ascribe his purity and inno- 
cency to his own strength; that so he should love Thee the less, as 
if he had less needed Thy mercy, whereby Thou remittent sins to 
those that turn [o Thee? For whosoever, called by Thee, followed 
Thy voice, and avoided [hose things which he reads me recalling and 
confessing of myself, let him not scorn me, who being sick was cured 
by that Physician, through whose aid i: was that he was not, or 
rather was less, sick: and for this let him love Thee as much, yea and 
more; since by whom he sees me to have been recovered from such 
deep consumption of sin, by Him he sees himself to have been from 
the like consumption of sin preserved. 

WhifC jruh had I then (wretched man!) in those things, of the 
retnembranu- whereof I am riois/ ashatticd?^^ Especially, in that theft 
which I loved tor the theft's sake; and it too was nothing, and 
therefore the more miserable I, who loved it. Yet alone I had not 
done it: such was I then, I remember, alone 1 had never done it. 1 
loved then in it also the company of die accomplices, with whom I 
did it? 1 did not then love nothing else but the theft, yea rather 

'^JonJb l, iv. '*Ps. txvi, TJ, I^RoTn. vL 21. 



30 TiiE CONFESSIONS Of ST. AUGUSTINE 

1 did love nothing else; for thiit circumstance of rhe company wat 
:iho nothing. What is> in truth? who can teach me, save He that 
enhghleneth my heart, and discovcreth its dark corners? What is 
it which hath come into my mind to enquire, and discuss, and con- 
sider? For had I then loved the pears I stole^ and wished to enjoy 
them, I might hjve done it alone, had the bare commission ot the 
theft sufficed to attain my pleasure; nor needed I have inflamed the 
itching of my desires by the escitement of accomplices. But since my 
pleasure was not in those pears, it was in the olJence itself, which 
[he company of fellow-sinners occasioned. 

What then was this feeling? For oE a truth it was too foul^ and 
woe was me, who had it. But yet what was it? W bo can miderstand 
his errors?" It was the sport, which as it were tickled onr hearts, 
that we beguiled those who little thought what we were doing, and 
much disliked it. Why then was my delight of such sort that I did 
it not alone? Because none doih ordinarily laugh alone? ordinarily 
no one; yet laughter sometimes masters men alone and singly when 
no one whatever is with them, iE any thing very ludicrous presents 
itself to their senses or mind. Yet I had not done this alone; alone 
I had never done it. Behold my God, before Thee, the vivid remem- 
brance of my soul; alone, I had never committed that theft wherein 
what I stole pleased me not, but that I stole; nor had it alone liked 
me to do it, nor had I done it. O friendship too unfriendly! thou 
incomprehensible inveiglcr of the soul, ihou greediness to do mis- 
chief out of mirth and wantonness, thou thirst of others' loss, without 
lust of my own gain or revenge: but when it is said, "Let's go, let's 
do if," we are ashamed not to be shameless. 

Who can disentangle that twisted and intricate knottiness? Foul 
is it: I hale to think on it, to look on it. But Thee I long for, O 
Righteousness and Innocency, beautiEul and comely to all pure eyes, 
and of a satisEaction unsating. With Thee is rest entire, and life 
imperturbable. Whoso enters into Thee, enters into the joy of his 
Lord}^ and shall not fear, and shall do excellently in the All- 
Excellent. 1 sank away from Thee, and 1 wandered^ O my God, too 
much astray from Thee my stay, in these days of my youth, and 1 
became to myself a barren land, 

'^ Ps. \iX. 1 2. " MiSI, XKV. II. 



THE THIRD BOOK 

His residence at Carthage from his seventeenth to his nineieenih year. 
Source of his disorders. Love of shows. Advance in stutMes, and 
love of wiadom. Distaste for Scripctire. Led astray lo the ManichLE- 
an5- Refuiation of some of iheir teneis. Grief of his moiher Monnica 
:it his heresy, and prayers for his conversion. Her vision from God, 
and answer ihrouj^h a Bishop, 

TO CARTHAGE i came, where there sang all around me in 
my ears a cauldron o£ unholy loves. I loved not yet, yet I 
loved Eo love, and out of a deep-seaied want, I haled my- 
self for wanting noL I sought what I might love, in love with loving, 
and safety I haled, and a \vay without snares- For within me was a 
famine of that inward food, Thyself, my God; yet, through that 
famine I was not hungered; but was without all longing for incor- 
ruptible sustenance, not because filled therewith, but the more empty, 
the more I loathed it. For this cause my soul was sickly and full 
of sores, it miserably cast itself forth, desiring to be scraped by the 
touch o£ objects of sense. Yet if these had not a soul, they would 
not be objects of love. To love then, and to be beloved, was sweet 
to me; but more, when I obtained to enjoy the person I loved. 1 
defiled, therefore, the spring of friendship with the filth of concu- 
piscence, and I beclouded its brightness with the hell of lustfulnessj 
and thus foul and unseemly, I would fain, through exceeding vanity, 
be fine and courtly. I fell headlong then into the love wherein I 
longed to be ensnared. My God, my Mercy, with how much gall 
didst Thou out of Thy great goodness besprmkle for me that sweet- 
ness.'^ For 1 was both beloved, and secretly arrived at the bond of 
enjoying; and was with joy fettered with sorrow-bringing bonds, 
that I might be scourged with the iron burning rods of jealousy, and 
suspicion, and fears, and angers, and quarrels. 

Stage-plays also carried me away, full of images of my miseries, 
and of fuel to my fire. Why is it, that man desires to he made sad, 
beholding doleful and tragical things, which yet himself would by 



33 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

no means suffer? yet he desires as a spectator to feel sorrow at them, 
and this very sorrow is his pleasure. What is this bui a miserable 
madnessP for a rrun is tlie more affected with these actions, the less 
free he is from such ailections. Howsoever, when he suffers in his 
own person, it nacd to be styled miseryi when he compassionates 
others, then it is mercy. But what sort of compassion is this for 
feigned and scenical passions? for the auditor is not called on to 
relieve, but only to grieve: and he applauds the actor of these fictions 
the more» the more hi? grieves. And if the calamities of those per- 
sons (whether of old limes, oi mere ficuon) be so acted, that the 
spectator is not moved to tears, he goes away disgusted and criti- 
cising; but if he be moved to passion^ he stays intent, and weeps 
for joy. 

Are griefs then too loved? Verily all desire joy. Or whereas no 
man Lkes to be miserable, is he yet pleased to be merciful P which 
because it cannot be without passion^ for this reason alone are pas- 
sions loved? This also springs from that vein oi friendship. But 
whither goes that vein? whither flows it? wherefote runs it into 
that [orreni of pitch bubbling forth those monstrous tides of foul 
lustfulness, into which it is wilfully changed and transformed, being 
of its own will precipitated and corrupted from its heavenly clear- 
ness? Shall compassion then be put away? by no means. Be griefs 
then sometimes loved. But beware of uncleanncss^ O my soul, under 
the guardianship of my God, the God of oitr fathers, ti'ho is to be 
praised und exalted above all for efer,^ beware of uncleanness. For 
I have not now ceased to pity; but then in the theatres I rejoiced with 
lovers when they wickedly enjoyed one another, although this was 
imaginary only in the play. And when they lost one another, as if 
very compassionate, 1 sorrowed with them, yet had my delight in 
both. But now 1 much more pity him that rejoiceth in his wicked- 
ness, than him who is thought to suffer hardship, by hissing some 
pernicious pleasure, and tlie loss of some miserable felicity. This cer- 
tainly is the truer mercy, but in it grief delights not. For though 
he that grieves for the miserable, be commended for his office of 
charity; yet had he, who is genuinely compassionate, rather there 
were nothing for him to grieve for. For if good will be ill willed 

^Boas of [h« Thtcc Children, Vfj. 3. 



THE CONFESSIONS OP ST. AUGUSTINE 33 

(which can never be)» :hen may he^ who truly and sincerely com- 
miserates, wish there might be some miserable, that he might com- 
miserate. Some sorrow may then be ailowed^ none loved. For thus 
dosr Thou, O Lord God, who lovesE souls far more purely than we, 
and hail more mcorrupiibly pity on them, yet are wounded with 
no sorrowfulness. And who is m^cient for these things?^ 

But I, miserable, then loved to grieve, and sought out what to 
grieve at, when in another's and that feigned and personated misery, 
chat acting be^t pleased me, and attracted me the most vchemendy, 
which drew tears from me. What marvel that an unhappy sheep 
straying from Thy Rock, and impatient of Thy keeping, I became 
infected with a foul disease? And hence the love of griefs; not such 
as should sink deep into me; for I loved not to suffer, what 1 loved 
to look on; but such as upon hearing their fictions should lightly 
scratch the surface; upon which, as on envenomed nails, followed 
inflamed swelling, impostumes, and a putrified sore. My life being 
such, was it life, O my God? 

And Thy faithful mercy hovered over me afar. Upon how griev- 
ous iniquities consumed 1 myself, pursuing a sacrilegious curiosity, 
that having forsaken Thee, it might bring me to the treacherous 
abyss, and the beguiling service of devils, to whom 1 sacrificed my 
evil actionSj and in all these things Thou didst scourge me! 1 dared 
even, while Thy solemnities were celebrared within the walls of Thy 
church, to desire, and to compass a business deserving death for its 
fruits, for which Thou scourgedst me wirh grievous punishments, 
though nothing to my fault, O Thou my exceeding mercy, my God, 
my refuge from those terrible destroyers, among whom I wandered 
with a stifT neck, withdrawing further from Thee, loving mine own 
ways, and not Thine; loving a vagrant liberty- 

Those studies also, which were accounted commendable, had a 
view to excelling in the courts of htigaiion; the more bepraised. the 
craftier. Such is men^s blindncSsS, glorying even in their bhnd- 
ness. And now I was chief in the rhetoric school, whereat I joyed 
proudly, and 1 swelled with arrogancy, though (Lord. Thou know- 
est) far quieter and altogether removed from the subvertings of those 
*"Subveriers" (for this ill-omened and devilish name was the very 

^2 Cor. iL 1&. 






34 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

badge of galbiicry) among whom I lived, wich a shameless shame 
tliai I \v3s no[ even as they. With ihem i lived, ^nd was someiimes 
delighted widi their Eriendihip, whose doings i ever did abhor — 
i. e,. ihdr '^subveriings," wherewith they witinonly persecuted the 
inodesEy of str;Ln^ers, which they disturbed by a gr;itui[<Jus jeering, 
feeding diereon their mahdoiis mirth. Nothing can be Uker ihe 
very actions of d^^vils than these. What then could ihey be more [luiy 
called iSiao "subveners"? themselves subverted and akogeiher per- 
verted first, (he deceiving spirits secredy deriding and seducing them, 
wherein themselves delight to jeer at, and deceive others. 

Among such as these, in that unsetded age of mine, learned 1 
book^ of eloquence, wherein I desired to be eminem^ out of a dam- 
nable and vainglorious end, a joy in human vanity. In [he ordinary 
course of siudy, I fell upon a certain book of Cicero, whose speech 
almost all admire^ not so his heart. This book of his contains an 
ej:honation to philosophy, and is called " Honcnslns" But ihis book 
altered my affeciions, and turned my prayers to Thyself, O Lurd^ 
and made me have other purposes and desires. Every vain hope at 
once became worthless to me; and I longed with an incredibly 
burning desire for an immortality of wisdom^ and began now to 
arise, that I might return to Thee. For not to sharpen my tongue 
{which thing I seemed to be purchasing with my mother's allow- 
ances, in thai my nineteenth year, my father being dead two years 
before), not to sharpen my tongue did I employ that book^ nor did 
it infuse into me its style, but its matter, 

HoTV did I burn then, my God, how did 1 burn to re-mount £rom 
earthly things to Thee, nor knew I what Thou wouldst do with me? 
For with Thee is wisdom. But the love of wisdom is in Greek called 
'*philosophyj'' with which that book intl,imtd me. Some there be 
that seduce through phdosophy^ under a great, and smooth, and 
honourable name colouring and disguising their own errors: and 
almost all who in that and former ages were such, are in that book 
censured and set forth: there also is made plain that wholesome 
advice of Thy Spirit, by Thy good and devout servant: Esware lest 
any man spoil yoii through philoiophy and r/aiii deceit, after ths 
tradition of men. after the rudijnents of the it^orld, and ?iOC after 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 35 

Christ. For in Him dweUelh all the fulness of the Godhead bodily? 
And since at ihai time (Tliou^ O light of my hejrt^ kaowesr) Apos- 
tolic Scripture wna not kLiown to mc^ 1 was delighied w'lxh. that es- 
_ hortation, so far only, that 1 was [hereliy strongly roused^ and 
kindled, and inflamed to love, and seek, and obtain, and hold, and 
embrace not this or that sect, but wisdom itself whatever iL were; 
and dtis alone checked mc thus cnkindkd, that the name of Christ 
was not in it. For this name, according to Thy mercy, O Lord, this 
name of my Saviour Thy Son, had my tender heart, even with my 
mother's milk, devoutly drunk in, and deeply treasured; and what- 
soever was without that name, diough never so learned, polished, or 
true, Eook not entire hold of me. 

1 resolved then to bend my mind to the holy Scriptures, that I 
might sec what they were. But behold> 1 see a thing not understood 
by the proud, tior laid open to children, lowlv in access, in its recesses 
lofty, and veiled with mysteries; and I was not such as could enter 
into it, or stoop my neck to follow ics steps. For not 3s 1 now speak, 
did 1 feel when I turned to diose Scriptures; but they seemed to me 
unworthy to be compared to the stateliness oE Tully: for my swell- 
ing pride shrunk from their lowliness, nor could my sharp wit pierce 
the interior thereof. Yet were they such as would grow up in a litde 
one. But 1 disdained to be a little one; and, swollen with pride, took 
myself to be a great one. 

Therefore I fell among men proudly doling, exceeifing carnal and 
prating, in whose mouths were the snares of the Devil, limed 
with the mi.xiure of the syllables of Thy name, and o£ our 
Lord Jesus Christ, an<i of the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, our Com- 
forter. These names departed not out of their mouth, but so far 
forth as the sound only and the noise of the tongue, for the heart 
was void of truth. Yet they cried out ''Truth, Truth," and spake 
much thereof to me, yet it was not in them:* but tliey spake false- 
hood, not of Thee only (who truly art Truth), but even o£ diose 
elements of this world, Thy creatures. And 1 indeed ought to have 
passed by even philosophers who spake truth concerning them, for 
love of Thee, my Father, supremely good, Beauty of all things beau- 

'Coi, ii, 8, 9, 'i Johnii, 4- 



I 



36 THE CONFESSION'S OF ST- AUGUSTINE 

ti£ul. O Truth, Trulh^ bow inwardly did even clien the marrow of 
my soul paiii after Thee, ^vhen they ohen and dlversly, and in many 
and huge books, echoed o£ Thee 10 me, though it was but an echo? 
And these were tlic dishes wherein to me, hungering after Thee, 
they, instead of Thee, served up the Sun and Moon, beautiful works 
of Thine, but yet Thy works, not Thyself, no nor Thy first works. 
For Thy spiritual works are before these corporeal works, celestial 
though [hey be, and shjnrng. But 1 hungered and thirsted not even 
after [hose first works of Thine, but after Thee Thyself, the Truth, 
in whom !S no t'arlablen^ss, neishcf shmlow of turning:^ yet they 
still set before me in those dishes, glittering fantasies, than which 
belter were it to love this very sun (which is real to our sight at 
least), than those fantasies which by our e>es deceive our mind. Yec 
because I thought them to be Thee, I fed thereon; not eagerly, for 
Thou didst not in them taste to me as Thou art; for Thou wast not 
these emptinesses^ nor was 1 nourished by diom, but exhausted 
rather. Food in sleep shows very like our food awake; yet are not 
those asleep nourished by it, for they are asleep. But those \vere not 
even any way like to Thee, as Thou hast now spoken to nie; for 
those were corporeal fantasies, false bodies* than which these true 
bodies, telcstial or [errestrialj which with our fleshly sight we behold, 
are far more certain: these things the beasts and birds discern as 
well as we, and they are more certain than when we fancy them. 
And again, we do with more certainty fancy them, than by them 
conjecture other vaster and infinite bodies which have no being. 
Such empty husks ^vas 1 then fed on; and was not fed. But Thou, 
my soul's Love, f'n loof^jtig for whom 1 jtiilf' that I may become 
Strong, art neither those bodies whfcii we see, though in heaven; nor 
those which we see not there; for Thou hast created them, nor dost 
Thou account them among the chiefest of Thy works. How far 
then art Thou from those fantasies of mine, fantasies of bodies which 
altogether are not, than which the images of those bodies, which 
are, are far more certain, and more certain still the bodies themselves, 
which yet Thou art not; no, nor the soul, which is the hfe of the 
bodies. So then, better and more certain is the life of the bodies than 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 37 

die bodies. Bu: Thou art the life oi soub, [he life of livesj having 
life in Thyself^ aod chajigesr not, li£e of my soul. 

Where dicn wcrt Thou ihen to me, and how far from meP Far 
verilj' was I straying £rom Thee, barred from the very husks of the 
swine, whom with husks J fed. For how much better are the fables 
of poets and gr;immarians ihan these snares? For verses, and poems, 
and "Medea flying," are moie profitable truly than these men's five 
elements, variously disguised, answering Co five dens of darkness 
which have no being, yei slay the believer. For verses and poems I 
can Eurn to true food, and '^Medea tlying," though I dfd sing, I main- 
tained not; though 1 heard it sung, I believed not: but those things 
I did believe. Woe, woe, by what seeps was I brought down to the 
depths of heilf' roiling and turmoifing through want of Truth, since 
I sought after Thee, my God (to Thee 1 confess it, who hadst mercy 
on me, not as yet confessing), not according to the understanding 
by ihe mind, wherein Thou willedst that i should excel the beasts, 
but according to the sense of the tiesh. But Thou wert more inward 
to me, than my most inward part; and higher rhan my highest. J 
lighted upon that bold woman, simple and f^noweth nothing, 
shadowed out in Solomon, sitting at the door, and saying. Eat ye 
bread of secrecies willingly, and drin^ ye stolen icaters which are 
swect'J^ she seduced me, because she found my soul dwelling abroad 
in the eye of my flesh, and luminating on such food as through it 
I had devoured. 

For other than this, that which really is I knew not; and was, as 
it were through sharpness of wit, persuaded to assent to foolish 
deceivers, when ihey asked me, ^'whence is evil ?" "is God bounded by 
a bodily shape, and has hairs and nails?" "are they to be esteemed 
righteous who had many wives at once, and did kill men, and sacri- 
ficed living creatures?"^ At which T, in my ignorance, was much 
troubled, and departing from the truth, seemed to myself to be 
making towards it; becatise as yet I knew not that evil was nothing 
but a privation of good, unEil at last a thing ceases altogether to be; 
which how should 1 see, the sight of whose eyes reached only to 
bodies, and of my mind to a phantasm? And 1 knew not God to 
'Prov, ix, ifl. ^Ffov, is. 13-17. ^1 KinfiS xvjii. -|u. 



38 THE CONFESSIONS OP ST. AUGUSTINE 

he a Spirit,^" not one who hath pans extended m Senglh and 
breadth^ or whose being was bulk; for every buik is less in a part 
than in the whole: and if ii be infinite^ it mu5t be less in such part 
as is defined by a certain space, than in its infinitude; and so is 
not wholly every where> as Spirit, as God. And ^vhat thai; should 
be in us» by which we were like to God, and might in Scripture be 
fightly said to be uficr ihc image of God,' I was altogether ignor- 
jnL 

Nor knew 1 that [rue inward righteousness which judgeth not 
according to custom, but out o£ the most righttul h\v of God Al- 
mighty, whereby the wjys of places and limes were disposed accord- 
ing to those times and places; itself meantime being the same always 
and every where, one thing in one place, and another in another; ac- 
cording to which Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses, and 
David, were righteous, and all those commended by the mouth of 
God; but were judged unrighteous by silly men, judgfng out of 
ynan's jud^nietil^' and measuring by their own petty habics, the 
moral habits of the whole human race. As if in an armory, one ignor- 
ant what were adapted to each pan should cover his head with 
greaves, or seek to be shod with a hehnei, and complain that they 
fitted not: or as i£ on a day when business is publicly stopped in the 
afternoon, one were angered at not being a[]o\ved to keep open shop^ 
because he had been in the forenoon; or when in one house he 
obscrvGih some servant take a thing in his hand, which the btitler 
is nor su/Tered to meddle with; or something permitted out of doors, 
which is forbidden in the dining-room; and should be angry, that 
in one house, and one family, the same thing is not allotted every 
where, and to all. Even such arc they who are fretted to hear some- 
thing to have been lawful for righteous men formerly, which now is 
not; or that God, for certain temporal respects, commanded diem 
one thing, and [he&c another, obeying both the same righteousness: 
^\'hereas they see, in one man, and one day, and one house, difTerent 
things to be fit for dilTerent members, and a thing formerly lawful, 
after a certain lime not so; in one corner permitted or commanded, 
but in another rightly forbidden and punished. Is justice therefore 
various or mutable? No, bui the times, over which it presides, flow 
'''John iv. 24. n Cen. L 17. 1^ i Cor. iv. 3. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTIXE 39 

not evenly, because Lhey are times. But mi!n whose days are few 
upon the catth}^ for thai by iheir ceases they c-tnnoc hjirmonise the 
causes of things in former ages and other nations, which they had 
no e>;perience of^ with these which they have experience of, whereas 
in one and rhe same body, day, or family, they easily see what is 
fitting for each member^ and season, pan, and person; to the one 
they take exceptions, ro ihe other they submit. 

These things I then knew not, nor observed; they struck my sight 
on all sidesj and 1 saw them not, I indited verses, In which I might 
nor pl^ce every foot every where, but differently in different metres; 
nor even in any one metre the self-same foot in all places. Yet the 
arc itself, by which I indited, had not dilTercnt principles for these 
diiierent cases, but comprised all in one. Still 1 saw not how that 
righteousness, which good and holy men obeyed, did far more ex- 
cellendy and sublimely contain in one all those things which God 
commanded, and in no part varied; although in varying rimes it 
prescribed not every thing at once, but apportioned and enjoined 
what was lit for each. And I^ in my blindness, censured the holy 
Fathers, not only wherein they made use of things present as God 
commanded and inspired tliem, but also wherein they were fore- 
telling things to come, as God was revealing in them. 

Can it at any lime or place be unjust to lone Cod with all his 
heart, with all hit soul, and with all his jntnd; and his neighbour 
as himself?'* Therefore see those foul offences which be against 
nature, to be every where and at all times detested and punished: 
such as were those of the men of Sodocn; which shotdd all nations 
commit, they should all stand guilty of the same crime, by the 
law of God, which hath not so made men that they should so abuse 
one another. For even ihat intercourse which should be between 
God and us is violated, when that same nature, of which He is 
Author, is polluted by perversity of lust. But diose actions which 
are olfences against the customs of men, are to be avoided accord- 
ing to the customs severally prevailing; so that a thing agreed upon, 
and confirmed, by custom or law of any city or naiion, may not 
be violated at the lawless pleasure of any, whether native or for- 
eigner. For any part which harmoniseih not with its whole, is of- 

" Job Ki", I- '■* Min. KMJ. 37-39^ 



40 THE CONFESSIONS OP ST. AUGUSTINE 

fensive. But when God commands a thing to be done» against the 
customs or compact of any people, [hough it were never by them 
done heretofore^ it is to be done; and if intermilicd, it is to be re- 
stored; and if never ordained, is now to be ordained. For lawful 
if it be for a king, in the state which he reigns over, to command 
that which no one before him, nor he himself heretofore, had com- 
manded, and to obey him cannot be against the common weal of the 
state (nay, it were against it if he were not obeyed, for to obey 
princes is a general compact of human society); how much more 
unhesitatingly ought we lo obey Godj in all which He commands, 
the Ruler of all His creatures! For as among the powers in man's 
society, the greater authority is obeyed in preference to the lesser, so 
must Cod above all. 

So in acEs of violence; where there is a wish to htirt, whether 
by reproach or injury; and these either for revenge, as one enemy 
against another; or for some profiL belonging to another^ as the 
robber to the traveller; or to avoid some evil, as towards one who is 
feared; or through envy, as one less fortunate to one more so, or 
one well thriven in any thing, to him who^e being on a par with 
himself he fears, or grieves at, or for the mere pleasure at another's 
pain, as spectators of gladiators, or deridera and mockers of others. 
These be the heads of iniquity, which spring from the lust of the 
flesh, of the eye,'* or of rule, either singly, or two combined, or all 
together; and so do men live ill against the three, and seven, [hat 
psahery of len strings" Thy Ten Commandments, O God, most 
high, and most sweet. Btil what foul offences can there be against 
Thee, who canst not he defiled? or what acts of violence against 
Thee, who canst not be harmed? But Thou avengest what men 
commit against themselves, seeing also when they sin against Thee, 
they do wickedly against their own souls, and iniquity gives itself 
the lie" by corrupting and perverting their nature, which Thou hast 
created and ordained, or by an immoderate use of things allowed, 
or in burning in things unallowed, to that use which is against 
natttre;^^ or are found guilty, raging with heart and tongue against 
Thee, ^ic^ing against the pric^s;'^ or when, bursting the pale of 
human society, they boldly joy in self-willed combinations or divi- 
" [ Jobn W. i6. "Ps. «!iv. 9. "Pa. ixvi. u— Vjlff. "Rom. i. '* AcU ix. 5- 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE ^4! 

sions, according as ihey have any object to gain or subject of offence. 
And these things are done v/hea Thou arl forsaken, O Fountain of 
Life, who art [he only and true Creator and Governor of the Uni- 
verse^ .md by a self-willed pride» any one false thing is selected 
thcrcfroin and loved. So then by a humble devouine^s we return 
to Thee; and Thou cleanse&t us from our evil habits, and art merci' 
fill to their sins who confess, and hearat the groaning of the pris- 
oner?' and loosest us from the chains which we made for ourselves, 
if we lift noE up against Thee the horns of an unreal hbcriy, suffer- 
ing the toss of all through covciousness of more, by loving more our 
own private good than Thee, Lhe Good of ail- 
Amidst these ofTences of foulness and violence, and so many in- 
iquities, are sins of men, who are on the whole making proficiency; 
which by those that judge rightly, are, after the rule of perfeclion, 
discommended^ yet die persons commended, upon hope of future 
fruit, as in the green blade of growing corn. And there are some, 
resembling oflences of foulness or violence, which yet are no sins; 
because they offend neither Thee, our Lord God, nor human so- 
ciety; when, namely, things fitting for a given period are obtained 
for the service of life, and we know not whether out of a lust of 
having; or when things are, for the sake of correction, by consti- 
tuted authority punished, and we know not whether out of a lust of 
hurting. Many an action then which in men's sight is disapproved, 
is by Thy testimony approved; and many, by men praised are (Thou 
being witness) condemned: because the show of the action* and 
the mind of die doer, and the unknown exigency of the period, 
severally vary. But when Thou on a sudden commandest an un- 
wonted and unihought of thing, yea, although Thou hast sometime 
forbidden if, and still for the time hidest the reason of Thy com- 
mand, and it be against the ordinance of some society of men, who 
doubts but it is to be done, seeing that society of men is just which 
serves Thee? But blessed are they who know Thy commands! For 
all things were done by Thy servants; either to show forth some- 
thing needful for the present, or to foreshow things to come. 

These things J being ignorant of, scoffed at those Thy holy serv- 
ants and prophets. And what gained \ by scofling at them, but to be 

"Ps. tii. 20. 



42 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

scoffed at by Thee, being insensibly and step by step drawn on to 
those follies^ as to believe ihai s fiij-tree wept when it was plucked, 
and the iree, its mother, shed milky tears? Whkh fig notwith- 
standing (plucked by some other's, not his own, guilt) had some 
(Manichi^an) saint eaten, and mingled with his bowels, he should 
breathe otir o£ it angels, yea, there shall burst forth particles ot 
divinity, at every moan or gro^n in his prayer, which particles of 
the most high and true God had remained bound in that fig, unless 
they had been set at liberty by the teeth or belly of some ^'Elect" 
saint! And I, miserable, believed that more mercy was to be shown 
to the fruits of the earth than men, for whom they were created. 
For if any one an hungered^ not a Manich^an, should ask for any, 
that morsel would seem as it were condemned to capital punishment, 
which should be given him. 

And Thou ssntest Thine hand jrom abofe^^ and drewest my soul 
out of that profound darkness, my mother, thy failhful one, weeping 
to Thee for me, more than mothers weep the bodily deaths of their 
children. For she, by that faiih and spirit which she had from 
Thee, discerned the death wherein I lay, and Thou heardesr her, O 
Lord; Thou heardest her, and despisedst not her rears, when stream- 
ing down, they watered the ground under her eyes in every place 
where she prayed, yea Thou heardest her. For whence was that 
dream whereby Thou comfortedst her; so that she allowed me to 
live with her, and to eat at the same table in ihe house, which she 
had begun to shrink from, abhorring and detesting the blasphemies 
of my error? For she saw herself standing on a certain wooden rule, 
and a shining youth coming towards her, cheerful and smiling upon 
her, herself grieving) and overwhelmed with grief. But he having 
(in order to instruct, as is their wont not to be instructed) enquired 
of her the causes of her grief and daily tears, and she answering that 
she was bewailing my perdition, he bade her rest contented, and 
lold her to look and observe, "That where she was, there was 1 
also." And wheo she looked, she saw me standing by her in the 
same rule. Whence was this, btrr that Thine ears were towards her 
heartP O Thou Good omnipotent, who so carest for every one of 

"I Ps. ciliv. 7. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 43 

us, as if Thou caredsE for him only; and so for iill, as if they were 
bui one! 

Whence was this also^ ihar when she hiid told me this vision, 
and 1 would fain bend i[ to mean, "That she rather should not 
despair of being one day what I was;" she presently, without 
any hesiLaiion, replies; "No; for it was not told me that, 'where he, 
there thou also;' hut 'where thou, there he also'"? T confess ta 
Thee* O Lord, that to the best of my remembrance (and I have oft 
spoken ot this), that Thy answer, Lhrough my waking mother, — 
that she was not perplexed by the plausihiliLy of my fahe interpre- 
latioiij and so quickly saw what w;i5 to be seen, and which I cer- 
tainly had not perceived before she spake, — even ihen moved me 
more than the dream itself, by which a joy to the holy woman, to be 
fulfilled so long after, was, for the consolation of her present an- 
guish, so long before foresigniBed. For almost nine years passed* in 
which I wallowed in the mire of ihat deep pit, and the darkness 
of falsehood, often assaying to rise, but dashed down the more 
grievously. All whicli time that chaste, godly and sober widow 
(such as Thou lovest), oow more cheered with hope, yet no whit 
relaxing in her weeping and mourning, ceased not at all hours of 
her devolions to bewail my case unto Thee. And her prayers cjilered 
into Thy piessncef^ and yet Thou sulTeresC me to be yet involved 
and rein vol ved in that darknesis. 

Thou gavesi her meantime another answer, which I call to mind; 
for much 1 pass by, hasting lo those things which more press me to 
confess unto Thee, and much I do not remember. Thou gavest her 
ihen another answer, by a Priest of Thine, a certain Bisliop brought 
up in Thy Church, and well studied in Thy books. Whom when 
this woman had entreated to vouchsafe to converse with me, refate 
my errors, unteach me ill things, and teach me good things (for 
this he was wont to do, when he fotind persons fitted to receive it), 
he refused, wisely, as I afterwards perceived. For he answered, that 
I was yet unteachable, being puffed up with the novelty of that 
heresy, and had already perplexed divers unskilful persons with 
caplioua questions, as she had told him; *'but ]et him afone a while" 



44 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE 

(Siiith he), '^only pray God for hmij he will of himself by reading 
iind what that error is, and how greac its impiety.** At the same 
time he inld her^ how hicnselt, when a little one, had by his se- 
duced mother been consigned over to the Manichees, and had not 
only read, but frequently copied out almost ail, theit books, and had 
(withoiii any argument or proof from any one) seen hov/ much th*it 
sect was to be avoided; and had avoided it. Which when he had 
said, and she would not be satisfied, but urged him more, with 
entreaties and many tears, that he would see me and discourse with 
me; he, a little displeased at her importunity, saith ,"Go thy ways, 
and God t)le5s tliee, for it is not possible that the son of these tears 
should perish." Which answer she look (as she oficn mentioned 
in her conversations with me) as if ic had sounded from Heaven- 



THE FOURTH BOOK 

Augustine's li£p from nineteen to eight-and -iwcnTy; himself a Mani- 
ch^n, and seducing others lo tlie some heresy; priial obedience 
amid« vanity and sin. consulting astrologers, only pariiaUy shaken 
herein; loss of an early £ri*?ndj who is convened by being bapiised 
when in :i swoon; reflecEions on Rricf, on real and unreal friendship, 
and love of fame; x'riies on "the fnir and hi," ycE cannot rigiYily* 
though God had given him great talents, since he entertained wrong 
nodons ot God; and so even his knowledge he applied ill. 

FOR this space of nine ycjrs (hen (from my nineteenth ye,ir to 
my eight-J Eld -twentieth) we lived seduced ^nd seducing, de- 
teivcd and deceiving, in divers lusts; openly, by sciences 
which [hey cad liberal; secretly, \vith a false-named religion; here 
proud, there superstitious, every where v^sini Here, hunting after 
the emptiness of popuhr praise, down even to ibejmcal applauses, 
and poetic prizes, and strifes for grassy garlands, and the follies of 
shows, and the intemperance of desires. There, desiring to be 
cleansed from these defilements, by carrying food to those who were 
called "elect" and "holy," out of which, in the workhouse of their 
stomachs, they should forge for us Angels and Gods, by whom wq 
might be cleaned. These things did I follow, and practise with my 
friends, deceived by me, and with me. Let the arrogant mock me, 
and such as have not been, to their soul's health, stricken and cast 
down by Thee, O my God; but 1 would still confess to Thee mine 
own shame in Thy praise. Suffer me, I beseech Thee, and give me 
j;race to go over in my present remembrance the wanderings of my 
forepassed time, and to o§er unto Thee thr: sacrifice of [!wn}{/g;iv- 
ing} For what am 1 lo myself without Thee, but a guide to mine 
own downfall? or what am 1 even at the be^sr, but an infanE sucking 
the milk Thou givest, and feeding upon Thee, the food that perisk- 
eth noi?^ Bu: what sort of man is any man, seeing he is but a man? 
Let now the strong and the mighty laugh at us, but let us poor und 
needy^ confess unto Thee. 

3 Ps. sJi:*, 14, ^fahn ij. 37. =Ps. fjxiii. ai, 

■15 



4^ THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

In those years I taught rhetoric, and, overconie by cupidity, made 
sale o£ a loquacity to overcome by. Yet 1 preferred (Lord, Thou 
knowesF) hoQesc scholars (as they are accounted), and these I, with- 
om artifice, taughl artifices, not to be practised against the life of 
the guiltless, though sometimes for the life of the guilty. And 
Thou, O God, from afar pcrceivcdst me stumbling in that slippery 
course, and amid much smoke sending out some sparks of faith- 
fulness, which I showed in that my guidance of such as loved 
vanity, and sought after leasing^ myidf their companion. In those 
years I had one, — not in that which is called lawful marriage, but 
whom I h^d found out in a wayward p^fssion, void of understand- 
ing; yet but one, remaining faithful even to her; in whom I in my 
own case experienced what dilTerence there Is betwixt the self- 
resEraint of the marriage-covenant, for the sake of issue, and the 
bargain of a lustful love, where children are born against their 
parents' will, akhough> once born, they constrain love. 

I remember also, that wlien I had setded to enter the lists for a 
theatrical prize, some wizard a^ked me what I would give him to 
win; but I, detesting and ahhorring such foul mysteries, answered, 
"Though the garland were of imperishable gold, I would not suffer 
a tly to be killed to gain me it.'^ For he was to kill some living 
creatures in his sacriJkes, and by iliose honours to invite the devils 
to favour me. But this ill also 1 rejected, not out of a pure love for 
Thee, O God of my heart; for I knew not how to love Thee, who 
knew not how to conceive aught beyond a material brightness. And 
doth not a soul, sighing after such fictions, commit fornication 
against Thee, trust in things unreal, and jced the wind?^ Still 1 
would not forsooth have sacrifices olfered to devils for me, to whom 
I was sacrificing myself by that superstition. For what else is it to 
jffed the wind, but to feed them, that is, by going astray to become 
their pleasure and derision? 

Those impostors then, whom ihey style Madiematicians, I con- 
sulted without scruple; because they seemed to use no sacrifice, nor 
to pray to any spirit for rlieir divinations: which art, however, 
Christian and true piety consistently rejects and condemns. For, ii ii 
a good thing to confess unto Thee, and to say. Have inercy upon 
^l&. jX\\. j; Mjil xii. 20i Pa. iv, 2. '•'Yitj^. xii 1. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 47 

me. hcd my soul, fay I have sinned against T/sec;^ and not to abuse 
Thy mercy for a license to sin, but to remember the Lord's words, 
Behold, thoft art made whole, sin no inofe, lest a t'jorse thing come 
unto thee] AU which wholesome advice they labour to destroy, 
s:iying, "The cause of thy sin is inevitably determined irt heaven;" 
and 'This did Verms, or Saturn, or Mars:'* that man, forsooth, flesK 
iind blood, and proud corruption^ might be blameless; while the 
Creator and Orclainer oi heaven and the stars is to bear the blame. 
And who is He but our God? the very sweetness and weU-spring of 
righteousness, who renderest to et/cry man according to his worlds: 
and a brol^en and contvite heart wilt 'Thou not despised 

There was in those days a wise man, very skilful in physic, and 
renowned therein^ who had with his own proconsular hand put the 
Agonistic garland upon my distempered head, but not as a phy- 
sician: for this disease Thou only curest, wAo resistest the proud, and 
giirest grace to the humbled But didst Thou fail me even by that 
old man, or forbear to heal my soul? For having become more ac- 
quainted with him, and hanging assiduously and fLxedly on his 
speech (for though in simple terms, it was vivid, lively, and ear- 
nest), when he had gathered by my discourse that 1 was given to 
the books ot nativity-casters, he kindly and fatherly advised me to 
casr them away, and not {ruitlessiy besiow a care and diligence, nec- 
essary for useful things, upon these vanities; saying, that he had in 
his earliest years studied diat art, so as to make it die profession 
whereby he should live, and that, understanding Hippocrates, he 
could soon have understood such a study as this; and yet he had 
given it over, and taken to physic, for no other reason but that he 
found it utterly false; and he, a grave man, would not get his living 
by deluding people. "But thou," saiih he, *'hast rhetoric to maintain 
thyself by, so that thou followest this of free choice, not of neces- 
sity: the more then oughtest thou to give me credit herein, who 
laboured lo acquire it so perfectly as to get my living by it alone." 
Of whom when I had demanded^ how then could many true things 
be foretold by it, he answered me (as he could) "that the force of 
chance* di^Tused throughout the whole order of things, brought 

^Pt. nfi. 4. ^JaliD V, 14. 'Rom. \\. 6; Malt, svi- 271 Pi- IL 17. 

■ I PCL V. 51 ]jm, iv. 6, 



48 THE CONFESSIONS OP ST. AUGUSTINE 

this about. For i£ when a m,iri by hapViazard opens nhe pages of some 
pocE, who sang and thought of something wholly different, a verse 
oftentimes fell out, wotidrously agreeable to the present business: 
it were not to be wondered at^ tf out of the soul of man, unciinscious 
what takes place in it, by some higher insiintt jn :Lnswpr should be 
given» by hjp, not by art, corresponding to the business and actions 
of [he demander." 

And thus much, either from or through him» Thon conveyedsi to 
me, and tracedst in my memory, what 1 might hereafter examine for 
myself. But at that time neither he^ nor my dearest Nebridius, a 
youth singularly good and of a hofy fcar^ who derided the whole body 
of divination, could persuade me 10 cast it aside, the audiority of the 
authors swaying me yet more, and as yet I had found no certain 
proof (such as I sought) whereby it might without all doubt appear, 
that what had been truly foretold by those consulted was the result 
of haphazard, not of the art of the star-gazers. 

In those years when 1 first began to teach rhetoric in my native 
town, I had made one my friend, but too dear to me, from a com- 
munity of pursuits, of mine own a^e, and, as myself, in the first 
opening flower of youth. He had grown up a child with me, and 
we had been both school-fellows and play-fellows. But he was not 
yet my friend as afterwards, nor even then, as true friendship is; 
for true it cannot be, unless in such as Thou cementest together, 
cleaving unto Thee, by that loi/e which is shed abroad in our hearts 
by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto as}'* Yet was it but too 
sweet, ripened by the warmth of kindred studies; for, from the true 
faith (which he as a youth had not soundly and thoroughly im- 
bibed), I had warped him also to those superstitious and pernicious 
fables, for which my mother bewailed me. With me he now erred 
in mind, nor could my soul be without him. Bur behold Thou were 
close OQ the steps of Thy fugitives, at Once God oj i-erjgcunce" and 
Fountain of mercies, turning us to Thyself by wonderful means; 
Thou lookest that man out of this life, when he had scarce filled 
up one whole year of my friendship, sweet to me above all sweetness 
of that my Hfe. 

JVho can recount aU Thy praises,^^ which he hath felt m his one 

"Rom, u. 5, 'fPs. xciv. i. i^Ps, cvi. 3. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE 43 

selt? What drdde&l Thou then, my God, and how unsearchable \s 
the abyss of Thy jitdgmcnts?^^ For long* sore sick of a fever, he lay 
Bcnscless in a dca[h-s\vcat; and his recovery being despaired of, he 
was biiptised, unknowing; myself meanwhile hcde regarding, and 
presuming that his soul would retain raiher what it had received 
of me, not what was wrought on his unconscious body. But it 
proved far otherwise; for he was refreshed, and restored. Fordiwilh, 
ai soon as J could speak with him (and I could, so soon as he was 
able, foe X never left him, and we hung but too much upon each 
other), i essayed to jest wiih him, as though he would jest with me 
at that baptism which he lud received, when utterly absent in mind 
and feehng* but had now understood ihaL he had received. But he 
so shrunk from me, as from an enemy; and with a wonderful and 
sudden freedom bade me, as J would continue his friend, forbenr 
such language to him. 1, all asionished and amazed, suppressed all 
my emotions till he should grow well, ajid his health were strong 
enough for me to deal with him as I would. But he was taken 
away from my frenzy, that with Thee he might, be preserved for my 
comfort; a few days after, in my absence, he was attacked again by 
the fever, and so departed. 

At this grief my heart was utterly darkened; and whatever 1 be- 
held was death. My native country was a torment lo me, and my 
father's house a strange unhappiness; and whatever 1 had shared 
with him, wanting him, became a distracting torture. Mine eyes 
sought him every where, but he was not granted [hem; and I hated 
all places, for that they had not him; nor could they now tell me, 
*'he is coming," as when he was alive and absent. I became a great 
riddle to myself, and 1 asked my soul* why she was so sad, and why 
she disquieted me sorely:'* but she knew not what to answer me. 
And if I said. Trust in God, she very rightly obeyed me not; because 
that most dear friend, whom she had lost, was, being man, boch 
truer and belter than that phantasm she was bid to irtiit in. Only 
tears were sweet to me, for they succeeded my friend, in the dearest 

of my aJTeciions. 

And now. Lord, these things are passed by, and time hath as- 
suaged my wound. May I learn from Thee, who arc Truth, and 

'^ Pa, xxxvL 1. " Ps. iliL $. 



p.- 



59 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

approach the ejr of my heart unto Thy mouth, that Thou mayest 
tell me why weeping is sweet to the miserable? Hast Thou* al- 
though present every where, cast away our misery far from Thee? 
And Thou abidest in Thysclt, but wc arc tossed about in divers 
trials. And yet unless we mourned in Thine e.irs, we ^huald have 
no hope left. Whence then is sweet fruit gathered from the bitter- 
ness of life, from groaning, tears, sighs, and complaints? Doth this 
sweeten it, that we hope Thou hearest? This is true of prayer, for 
therein is a [onging to approach unto Thee. But is it also in grief 
for a thing lost, and the sorrow wherewith I was then overwhelmed ? 
For I neither hoped he should return to life nor did 1 desire this 
with my tears; but 1 wept only and grieved. For 1 was miserable, 
and had Tost my joy. Or is weeping indeed a bilLer thing, and for 
very loathing of the things which we before enjoyed, does it [hen, 
when we shrink from them, please us? 

But what speak I of ihese things? for now is no lime to ques- 
tion, but lo confess Unto Tliec. Wretched I was; and wretched is 
every soul bound by the friendship of perishable things; he is torn 
asunder when he loses them, and then he feels the wretchedness 
which he had ere yet he lost them. So was it then with me; I wept 
most bitterly, and found my repose in bitterness. Thus was I 
wretched, and that wretched life 1 held dearer than my friend. For 
though 1 would willingly have changed it, yet was I more unwilling 
to part with it thj>n with him; yea, I know not whether 1 would 
have parted with it even for him, as is related (if not feigned) of 
Py lades and Orestes, that they would gladly have died for each other 
or together, not to live together being to them worse dian death- 
Bui in me there had iirisen some unexplained feeling, too contrary 
to this, for at once I loathed exceedingly to live and feared to die. 
I suppose, the more i loved him. the more did I hate, and fear (as 
a uiost cruel enemy) death, which had bereaved me of him: and I 
imagined it would speedily make an end of all men, since it had 
power over him. Thus was it with me, 1 remember. Behold my 
heart, O my God, behold and see into me; for well 1 remember il, 
O my Hope, who cleansest me from the impurity of such alTections, 
directing limine eyes ioti^ai'ds Thee, and plucking my fee^ out of the 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUCUSTINE Jl 

snare^^ For 1 wondered th:iE others, subjifct to dcath^ did live, since 
he whom I loved, as if he should never die, was dead; and I won- 
dered yei more that myself, who wjs to him a second self, could live, 
he being dead. Wdl said one of his friend, "Thou halt of my soul;" 
for I felt ihat my aoul and his soul were *'one soul in cwo bodies:" 
and therefore was my life a horror to mc, because I would not live 
halved. And therefore perchance 1 feared XO die, lest he \vhom 1 
had much loved should die wholly, 

O madness, which knowcst not how lo love men, like menl O 
foolish man that I then was* enduring impatiently the lot of man! 
I fretted then, sighed, wept, was thstracted; had neither resc nor 
counsel. For I bore about i\ shattered and bleeding soul, impatient 
of being borne by me, yet where to repose iE^ I found not. Not in 
calm groves, not in games and music, nor in fragrant spot^, nor In 
curious banquetings, nor in the pleasures of the bed and the couch; 
nor (finally) in books or poesy, foiind it repose. All things lociked 
ghastly^ yea» the very light; whatsoever was not what he was, was 
revolting and hateful, except groaning and tears. For in those alone 
found 1 a little refreshment. But when my soul was withdrawn 
from them a huge load of misery weighed me down. To Thecj O 
Lord, It ought to have been raised, for Thee to lighten; I knew it; 
but neither could nor would; die more, since, when 1 thought of 
Thee, Thou wert not to me any solid or substantial thing. For 
Thou were not Thyself^ but a mere phantom, and my error was my 
God. If I offered to discharge my load thereon, that il might rest, 
it glided through the void, and came rushing down again on me; 
and I had remained to myself a hapless spnE, where I could neither 
be, nor be from thence- For \^'hi[hcr should my heart flee from my 
heart? Whither should 1 flea from myself? Whither not foUo^v 
myself? And yet 1 fled out of my coLiniry; for so should mine 
eyes less look for him, where they were not wont to see him. And 
thus from Thagaste, I came to Carthage, 

Times lose no time; nor do they roll idly by; through our senses 
they work strange operations on the mind. Behold, they went and 
came day by day, and by coming and going, introduced into my 



52 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

mind other imaginations and other rcmcmbrjncesi and little by 
little patched me up *ig*f]n with my old kind o£ deligfiES, unto which 
that my sorrow gave way. And yet there succeeded, not indeed other 
griefs, yet the catises of other griefs. For whence had that former 
grief so easily reached my very inmost soul, but that I had poured 
out my soul upon (he dust, in loving one that muit die, as if he 
would never die? For what restored and refreshed me chiefly ;vas 
the sobces of other friends, xvitli whom I did love, what instead of 
Thee 1 loved; and this was a great fabk, and protracted lie, by whose 
adulterous stimulus, our soul, which lay itching in our ears, was 
being defiled- But that fable would not die to me, so oft as any of 
my friends died. There were other things which in them did more 
take my mind; to talk and jest together, to do kind offices by turns; 
to read together honied books; to play the fool or be earnest to- 
gether; to dissent at limes without discontent, as a man might with 
his own self; and even with the seldomness of these dissentings, to 
season our more frequent consentings; sometimes to teach, and some- 
times learn; long for the absent with impatience; and welcnme the 
coming with joy. These and the hke expressions, procifeding out of 
the hearts of those that loved and were loved again, by the counte- 
nance, the tongue, the eyes, and a thousand pleasing gestures, were 
so much fuel to melt our souls together, and out of many make but 
one. 

This is it that is loved in friends; and so loved, that a man^s con- 
science condemns lEscIf, if he love not him that loves him again, 
or love not again him that loves him, looking for nodiing from his 
person but indications of his love. Hence ihat mourning, if one die, 
and darkenings of sorrows, that steeping of the heart in tears, all 
sweetness turned lo bitterness; and upon [he loss of life of the dy- 
ing, the death of the living, blessed whoso loveth Thee, and his 
friend in Thee, and his enemy for Thee. For he alone loses none 
dear to him, to whom all are dear in Him who cannot be lost. 
And who is this but our God, the God ihat made heaven and earth, 
and fslleth them,'^ because by tilling them He created themr Thee 
none loseth, but who leaveth. And who leaveth Thee, whither goeth 
or wbidier fJeeih he, hut from Thee well-pjeased, to Thee displeased? 

1^ Gen, ii. 14] ini. x:<m. J4- 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 53 

For where doth he not find Thy law in his own punishment? And 
Thy hiir is iruthr and truth Thou. 

Turn lis, God of Hosts^ shotif us Thy countenance, and ive 
skaU be whole.^'^ For whithersoever the soul of m:in [urns itself, 
unless lowiirds Thee, it is riveted upon sorrows, yea though it is 
riveted 00 things benutiful. And yet they, out o£ Thee, jnd out of 
the soul, were not, unless ihey were from Thee. They rise, and 
set; and by rising, they begin as it were to he; they grow, thjl they 
joay be perfected; and perfected, they wax old and wither; and all 
grow not old, but all wither. So then when they rise and lend to 
be, the more quickly ihey grow that tbcy may be, so much ihc more 
they haste not to be. This is tlie law of them. Thus much hast 
Thou allotted them, hecause they are portions o£ things, which exist 
not all at once, but by parsing away and succeeding, they together 
complete that universcj whereof they are portions. And even thus is 
our speech completed by signs giving forth a sound; hut this again 
is not perfected unless one word pass away when it hath sounded 
its part, chat anodier may succeed. Out of all these things let my 
soul praise Thee, O God, Creator of all; yet let not my toul be 
riveted unto ttieic things wiih the glue of love, through the senses 
(kf the bo^ly. For they go whither they were to go, that they might 
not be; and they rend her with pcstileni longings, because she longs 
to be, yet loves to repose in what she loves. But in these thmgs 
is no place of repose; they abide not, [hey flee; -ind who can folloAV 
them with the senses of the flesh? yea, who can grasp them, when 
they are hard by? For the sense of the flesh is slow, because it is 
the sense of the flesh; and thereby is it hounded. It sufliceth; for 
that it was made for; but Ic sulficeth not to slay things running their 
course from their appointed starling-place to the end appointed. 
For in Thy Word, by which they are created, they hear their decree, 
"hence and hitherto." 

Be not fooiish, O my souT, nor become deaf in the ear of tniiie 
heart with the tumult of thy folly. Hearlcen thou too. The Word 
itself calleth thee to return: and there is the place of rest imperturb- 
able, where love is not forsaken, if itself forsakeih not. Behold, 
these tilings pass away, that others may replace them, and so this 
"Ps. ciijx. 143; John xiy. C. ^Ps. Ijj^Ji. 19. 



54 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

lower universe be completed by all his parts. But do I depart any 
whiihcr? saiih the Word of God. There fix thy dwelling, trust 
there whatsoever thou hast thence, O my soul, at least now rhou art 
tired our with vanities. Entrust Truth, whatsoever thou hast front 
the Truth, and thou shalt lose nothing; and thy decay shall bfoom 
again, and all thy diseases be healed^'^ and thy mortal parts be re- 
formed and renewed, and bound around tliee: nor shall they lay 
ihee whither themselves descend^ but they sliall stand fast with 
thee, and abide for ever before God, who abideth and standcth fast 
jor ei/er}'^ 

Why then be perverted and follow thy flesh? Be ic converted 
and follow thee. Whatever by her thou hast sense of, is in pan; 
and the whole, whereof tliese are parts, thou knowest not, and yet 
they delight thee. But had thp sense of thy flesh a capacity for com- 
prehending the whole, and not itself also, for thy punishment^ beea 
justly restricted to a part of the whole, thou wouldest, thai whatso- 
ever eKisteth at diis present, should pass away, that so the whole 
might better please thee. For what we speak also, by the same sense 
of die flesh thou hearest; yet wouldest not thou have the syllables 
stay, but fly away, that others may come, and thou hear the whole. 
And so ever, when any one ihing is made up of many, all of which 
do not exist together, all collectively would please more than they 
do severally, could all be perceived collectively. But far better than 
these is He who made all; and He is our God, nor doth He pass 
away, for neither doth aught succeed Him. 

li bodies please thee, praise God on occasion of ihem, and turn 
back thy love upon their Maker; lest in these things which please 
thee, thou displease. If souls please thee, be they loved in God: for 
they too are mutable, but in Him are they lirmly stahhshcd; else 
would they pass, and pass away. In Him then be they beloved; and 
carry unto Him along with thee what souls thou canst, and say to 
them, "Him let us love, Him let us love: He made these, nor is 
He far off. For He did not make them, and so depart, but they are 
of Him, and in Him. See there He is, where truth is loved. He is 
within the very heart, yet hath the heart strayed from Him. Go 
back^ into yottr heart, ye transgressors, aiid cleave fast to Him that 

Jsp5.ciii,3' ^°i Cet. i. 25. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE 

made you. Stand wiili Him, and ye shall sriind fast. Rest in Him, 
and ye shall hn at resu Whither go ye in rough waysP Whither go 
ye? The good ihat you love h from Him; btif it is good and 
pleasant through reference lo Him, and jusdy shall it be embittered, 
because unjustly fs anything loved which is from Him, if He be 
forsaken for it. To xvb.it end then would ye still and still walk 
these difficult and coilsome ways? There is no rest, where ye seek 
it. Seek whaE ye seek; buE iE is not there where ye seek. Ye seek 
a blessed life in the land of death; it is not there. For ho^v should 
there be a blessed life \\'here life itself is not?'* 

"But our true Life came down hither, and bore our death, and 
slew him, out of tlie abundance of His own life: and He thundered, 
calling aloud to us to return hence Eo Him into that secret place, 
whence He came forth to us, first into the virgin's womb, ^vherein 
he espoused the human cteation, our mortal ilesh, d^at it might ]iot 
be for ever mortal, and thence Iil(e a bridegroom coming out of his 
chamijer, rejoicing as a giant to run hiscotins}^ For He lingered not, 
buE ran, calhng aloud by words, deeds, death, life, descent, ascension; 
crying aloud to us to return unto Him. And He departed from our 
eyes, that we might return into our heart, and there find Him. For 
He departed, and lo, He is here. He would not be long with us, yet 
left us not; for He departed thither, whence He never parted, bs' 
cause the world ci/as made by HimP And in this world He was, and 
into this world He came to save sinners^ unto whom my soul con- 
fesseth, and He healcth it, for it hath sinned against Himi'^ O ye 
sons of jfien. how long so slow of heart?'" Even now, afcer the 
descent of Life to you, will ye not ascend and live? But whither 
ascend ye, when ye are on high, and set your ruorith against the 
heafcns?^ Descend, that ye may ascend, and ascend to God. For 
ye have fallen, by ascending against Hun." Tell them this, that they 
may weep in the valley of tears." and so carry them up with thee 
unto God; because out of His Sphit thou speakesE thus unto them, 
if thou speakest, burning with the fire of charity. 

These things 1 then knew not, and I loved these lower beauties, 
and 1 was sinliing to the veiy depths, and to my frieuds I said, ''Do 

"Ps. iix.5. £2 John L 10. ^^T Tii.Ki. 15. ^'Ps. xlL 4. ^^ P3. iv. 3.— Vulg. 

J" Ps- Issiii- p. ^' Ps, hxxiv. 6. 



56 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

we love any thing buf the beauciful? What then is the beautiful? 
and what is beauty? What is it that aiiracts and wins us to the 
things we loveP for unless there were in them a grace and beauty, 
ihcy could by no means draw us unto them." And I marked and 
perceived that in bodies ihemselves, there w^s a beauty, from their 
forming a sort of whole, and again, another from apt and mutual 
correspondence, as ol a parr of (he body with iLs whole, or a shoe 
with a foot, and the like. And this consideration sprang up in my 
mind, out of my inmoic heart, and I wrote "on the fair and fit," I 
think, two or three books. Thou knowest, O Lord, for ic is gone 
from me; for I have them not, but they ate strayed from me, I 
know nor how. 

But what moved me, O Lord my God, to dedicate these books 
unlo Hierius, an orator of Rome, xvhom 1 knew not by face, but 
loved for the fame of his learning which was eminent in him^ and 
some words of his 1 liad heard, which plcused me? But more did 
he please me, for [bjt he pleased others, who highly extolled him, 
amazed that out of a Syrian, first instructed in Greek eloquence, 
should afterwards be formed a wondcrfiii Latin orator, and one 
most learned in diings pertaining unto philosophy. One is com- 
mended, and, unseen, he is loved: doth this love enter che heart of 
the hearer from the moutli of the coinmeuder? Not so. I3ut by 
one who loveth is another kindled. For hence he is loved who is 
coinmendedj when the commeuder is believed to extol him with 
an unfeigned heart; that is, when one that loves him praises him. 

For so did I then love men, upon the judgment o£ men, not 
Thine, O my God, in whom no man is deceived. But yet why not 
for qualities, like those of a famous charioteer, or fighter with the 
beasts in the theatre, known far and widt by a vulgar popularity, 
but far otherwise, and earnestly, and so as 1 would be myself com- 
mended? For I would not be commended or loved, as actors are 
(though I myself did commend and love them), but had rather be 
unknown, than so known; and even hated, than so loved. Where 
now are the impulses to such various and divers kinds of loves Eaid 
up in one soul? Why, since we are equally men, do I love in an- 
other what, if I did not hate, I should nor spurn and cast from my- 
self? For it holds not, that as a good horse is loved by him, who 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE ^ 

would not, tliough he mighi, be that horse, therefore ihe same ma/ 
be said of an aclor^ who shares our nature. Do 1 then love in a man, 
what I hate to be, who am a man? Man himself is a great deep, 
whose very haits Thou nujnbefest, O Lord, and they fail not to the 
ground without Thet^J'^ And yet are the hairs of his head easier 
to be numbered than are his feelings, and the heatings of his 
heart. 

But that orator was of that sort whom I loved, as wishing to be 
myself stich; and I erred through a swelling pride, and ri'iis tossed 
about with every ivind^^ but yet was steered by Thee, thougli very 
secredy. And whence do I know, and whence do 1 confidendy con- 
fess unco Thee, that I had loved him more for ihc love of his com- 
menders, than for the very things for which he was commendedP 
Because, had he been unpraised, and these sclf-same men had dis- 
praised him, and with dispraise and eontempt told the very same 
things of him, I had never been so kindled and excited to love him. 
And yet the things had not been other, nor he himself other; but 
only the feelings of the relators. See where the impotent soul hes 
along, ihac is not yet stayed up by the solidity of iruthi Just as the 
gales of tongues blow from the breast of the opinionative, so is it 
carried this way and that, driven forward and backward, and the 
light is overclouded to it, and the truth unseen. And lo, it is before 
us. And it was to me a great matter, thar my discourse and fabours 
should be known to that man: which should he approve, I were the 
more kindled, but if he disapprovedj my empty heart, void o£ Thy 
solidity, had been wounded. And yet the "fair and fit/' whereon I 
wrote to him, 1 dwelt on with pleasure, and surveyed it, and admired 
it, though none joined therein. 

But I saw not yet, whereon this weighty matter turned in Thy 
wisdom, O Tliou Omnipofent, who ojily docst wondcrsf^ and my 
mind ranged through corporeal forms; and *'fair," I defined and 
distinguished what is ^ fn iLselC, and "fit/' whose beauty is in cor- 
respondence to some other thing: and this I supported by corporeal 
examples. And I turned to the nature of the mindj buL the false 
notion which I had of spiritual things, let me not see the truth. Yet 
the force of truth did of itself Hash into mine eyes, and I turned 



i 



5^ THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

away my panting soul from incorporeal substance to lincanientSj and 
colours, and bulky magnitudes. And not being able to see these io 
the mind, ] thought I could not see my mind. And whereas in vir- 
Eue I loved peace, and in viciousness I abhorred discord; in the first 
I observed a unity, but in the other, a sort of division. And in that 
unity I conceived the rational soul, and the nature of Iruih and of 
[he chief good to consist; huC in this division I miserabJy imagined 
ihere to be some unknown substance of irrational life, and l!^e na- 
ture of the chief evil^ which should not only be a substance, but 
real life also, and yet not derived from Thee, O my God, of whom 
are all things. And yet that first I called a Monad, as it had been a 
soul without sex; btit the latter a Duad; — anger, in deeds of violence, 
and in flagitiousness, lust; not knowing whereof I spake. For I had 
not known or learned that neiihi:r was evil a substance, nor our 
soul that chief and unchangeable good. 

For as deeds of violence arise, if ihar emorion of the soul be cor- 
rupted, whence vehcmcni action springs, stirring itself insolentfy 
and unrulily; and lusts, when that affection of the soul is ungov- 
erned, whereby carnal pleasures arc drunk in, so do errors and false 
opinions defile [he conversation, if the reasonable soul itself be cor- 
rupted; as it was then in me, who knew not that it must be enlight- 
ened by another light, that k may be partaker of truth, seeing itself 
js not that nature of truth. For Thou shalt light my candle, O Lord 
my Cod, Thou shah enlighten my dirl^ncss?^ and of Thy fulness 
knife ti/e all received, for Thou art the true light that lighteth every 
man that cometh into the world^^ for in Thee there is no variable- 
ness, neither shadotv of changed 

But 1 pressed towards Thee, and was thrust from Thee, that T 
might taste of death: for thou rcsistest the proud}* But what 
prouder, than for mc with a strange madness to maintain myself to 
be that by nature which Thou art? For whereas I was subject to 
change (so much being manifest to me, my very desire to become 
wise, being the wish, of worse to become better), yet chose 1 rather 
to imagine Thee subject to change, than myself not to be that 
which Thou art. Therefore T was repelled by Thee, and Thou re- 
sistedst my vain stiff-neckedness, and 1 imagined corporeal forms, 

^' Pt sviii. 38, ^^John i- iC. 9s " hm- i- J?. ^ ^ Pe^- v. 5^ Jam. iv. 6. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 59 

and, myself flesh, I accused flesh; and, a wifid thai passeth away, 
I returned not^ lo Thee, but I passed on and on to things \vhich 
have no beingj neiLher in Thee, nor in me, nor in the body. Neither 
were they created for me by Thy truth, but by my vanity devised 
ouE of diings corporeal. And I was wont to ask Thy faithful littSe 
ones, my fellow-citizens (from whom, unknown lo myself, I stood 
exiled), I was wont, prating and foolishly, to ask them, "Why then 
doth the soul err which God created P'' But 1 would not be asked, 
"Why then doth God err?^' And I maintained thar Thy unchange- 
able substance did err upon constraint, rather than confess that my 
changeable substance had gone astray voluntarily, and now, in 
punishment, lay in error, 

\ was then some six or seven and twenty years old when I wrote 
those volumes; revolving within me corporeal fictions, buzzing in 
the ears of my heart, which I turned, O sweet truth, to thy inward 
melody, meditating on the "fair and liti" and longing to stand and 
hearken to Thee, and to rejoice greatly at the Bridegroom's voke^ 
but could not; for by the voices of mine own errors, I was hurried 
abroad, and through the weight of my own pride, 1 was sinking 
into the lowest pit. For Thou didsE not jnak^ inc to hear joy and 
gladness, nor did the bones exrilt which were not yet huinhled^ 

And what did it profit me, that scarce twenty years old, a book 
of Aristotle, which they call the ten Predicaments, falling into nay 
hands (on whose very name I hung, as on something greac and 
divine, so often as my rhetoric masier of Carthage, and others, ac- 
counted learned, mouthed it with checks bursting with pride), I 
read and understood it unaided? And on my conferring with others, 
who said that they scarcely understood it with very able tutors, not 
only orally explaining it, but drawing many things in sand, they 
could tell me no more of it than 1 had learned, reading it by myself. 
And the book appeared to me £□ speak very clearly of substances, 
such as "man," and of their qualities, as the figure of a man, of what 
sort it is; and stature, how many feet high; and his retatlonahip, 
whose brother he is; or where placed; or when born; or whether he 
stands or sits; or be shod or armed; or does, or suffers anything; and 
all the innumerable things which might bo ranged under these nine 
**Ps, Ixiiviii. 39. ^Joha liL ly^ ^' Pi. li- t- 



60 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE 

PredicamtfCits, oE which 1 have given some specimens^ or under ihat 
chief Predicameni of Substance. 

What did all ihh further me, seeing ic even hindered mc? when, 
imagining whattver was, was comprehonded under those ten Pie- 
dtcaments, I essayed in such wise to tinderstand, O my God, Thy 
wonderful and unchangeable Unity also, as if Thou also hadsc been 
subjected to Thine own greatness or beauty; so that (lis in bodies) 
they should e^ist in Thee, as their subject: whereas Tliou Thyself 
arc Thy gteainess and beauty; but a body is not great or fair in that 
it is a body, .seeing thai, though it were less great or fair, it should 
notwithstanding be a body. But it was faiscliood which of Thee I 
conceived, not truth, fictions of my misery, not the realities of Thy 
Blessedi^css. For Thou hadst commanded, and it was done in me, 
that the earth should hi'hg forth briars und thorns to me, and 
that in the sweat of 7?iy brows I shor/ld eat my breads 

And what did it prolu me, diat all the books I could procure 
of the so-called liberal arts, I, the vile slave of vile affections, read by 
myself, and understood? And 1 delighted in them, but knew noc 
whence came all, that herein was true or certain- For I had my back 
to the light, and my face to the things enlightened; whence my 
face, with which I discerned iJie things enlightened, itself was not 
enlightened. Whatever was written, either on rhetoric, or logic, 
geometry, music, and jrrithmetic, by myself without much difficulEy 
or any instructor, I understood. Thou knowest, O Lord my God; 
because both quickness of understanding, and acuteness in discern- 
ing, is Thy gift; yet did I not thence sacrifice lo Thee. So then it 
served not to my use, but rattier to my perdition, since \ went about 
to get so good a ponton of my siibsiance into my own keeping; 
and I \ep£ not my strength for Thee, but wandered from Thee 
into a far eountry, to spend it upon harlotries.^ For what profited 
me good abiliiieSj not employed to good uses."^ For 1 fek not that 
[hose arts were attained with great difficulty, even by the studious 
and talented, until I attempted to explain them to such; when he 
most excelled in them who followed me noc altogether slowly. 

But what did (his further me, imagining that Thou, O Lord Cod, 
the Truth, werE a vast and bright body, and I a fragment of that 

^Luke xv.; Ps. Iviii. lo. — Viiig. 



THE CON'FESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTIKE $% 

body? Perverseiiess loo gre^t] But such was L Nor do 1 blush, O 
my God^ ro confess to Thee Thy ntctcUs towards me. and lo call 
upon Thee, who blushed not ihen to profess lo men my blasphemies, 
and to bark against Thee. What profited me then my nimble wit 
in those sciences and all those most knotty volumes^ unravelled by 
me» without aid from human instruction; seeing 1 erred so foully, 
and with such sacrilegious shamcfulness, in the doctrine o£ piety? 
Or what hindrance was a far slower wit to Thy little ones, since 
they departed not far from Thee, that in the nesi of Thy Church 
they might securely be fledgedi and nourish the wings of charily, 
by the food of a sound faith. O Lord our God, tinder ths shadoif of 
Thy wings let tis hope; protect us, iind carry us. Thou wilt c;irry 
us both ^v"hen liLlle, and ei^sn to hoar hairs milt Thou carry us;^ for 
oEir Hrmness, when it is Thou, then is it Iirmness; but when our 
own, it is infirmity. Our good ever hves with Thee; from which 
when we turn away, we are turned aside. Let us now, O Lord, 
returnT that we may not be overturned^ because with Thee our good 
lives without any decay, which good art Thou; nor need we fear, 
lest there be no place whither to return, because we fell from it: for 
through our absence, our mansion fell not — Thy eternity. 

^ii, dvi. 4. 



THE FIFTH BOOK 

St. Augustine's twjjnty-ninih year. Fau&'us, a sn^re of Satan to manyi 
made an in^trumem: o£ deliverance to St, Augusiine, by showing the 
ignorance of the Manichees on those things wherein they professed 
lo have divine knou'lcdgc. Augtistinc gives up all iliou^hc o£ going 
funlier among the Manichees: is guided to Rome and Milan, where 
he hears St, j^mbrose* leavts the Maiilchcc?, and becomes again a 
Catechumen in the Church Catholic. 

ACCEPT the sacrifice o£ my confessions from the ministry of 
JLI my tongue, which Thou hast formed and stirred up to con- 
X ^{£,^5 unto Thy name. Heni Thou all my bones, and let them 
say. O Lard, tvho is lil^e unto 7'hee'?^ For he who confesses to Thee 
doth not teach Thee whi>t takes place within himi seeing a closed 
heart closes not out Thy eye, nor can man's hard-heartedncss thrust 
back Thy hand: for Thou dissolvest it at Thy will in piiy or in 
vengeance, ujjd nothing can hide itself from Thy heat} But let my 
soul praise Thee, that ii may love Thee; and let it confess Thy own 
mercies to Thee, that it may praise Thee. Thy whole creation ceascth 
not, nor is silent in Thy praises; neither the spirit of man with 
voice directed untn Thee, nor creation animate or inanimate, by the 
voice of those who meditate thereon; that so our souls may from their 
weariness arise towards Thee, leaning on those things which Thau 
ha5t created, and passing on to Thyself, who madest diem wonder- 
fully; and there is refreshment and true strength. 

Let the restless, the godless, depart and flee from Thee; yet Thou 
seest them, and dividest the darkness. And behold, the universe 
with them is fair, though they are fotil. And how have ihey injured 
Thee? or how have they disgraced Thy government, which, from 
the heaven to this lowest earth, is just and perfect? For whither fled 
they, when they jled from Thy presence.!*^ or where dost not Thou 
find them? But they iled, that they might not see Thee seeing 
them, and, bhnded, might stumble against Thee' (because Thou 

6jt 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTI^■E 63 

forsaksst nothing Thott hast piad^''); dial the unjust, 1 sa.y, might 
stumbTe upori Thee, and justly be hurt; withdrawing themselves 
from ihy gentleness, and stumbling at Thy uprightness, and falling 
upon their own ruggednes5. Ignorant, in trudi, that Thou an every 
where, Whom no pbcc encnmpasscth! and Thou iilone art near, 
even to those that renioj/tr far frojn Thce^ Let them then be turned, 
and seek Thee; because uot as they have forsaken their Creator^ hast 
Thou forsaken Thy creation. Let them be turned and seek Thee; 
and behold. Thou art there in their heart, in the heart of those that 
confess to Thee, and cast themselves upon Thee, and weep in Thy 
bosom, after all their rugged ways. Then dost Thoti gently wipe 
away their tears, and they weep the more, and joy in weeping; even 
for (hat Thou, Lord, — not man of flesh and blood, but — Thou, Lord, 
who madesE them, rc-makest and conifortesE them. Bat where was 
I, when I was seeking Thee? And Thou wctt before me, but I 
had gone away from Thcej nor did 1 find myself, how muck less 
Thee! 

I would lay open before my God that nine-and-twcntieth year 
of mine age. There had then come to Carthage a cerL^in Bishop of 
the Maniehees, Faustus by name, a great snare of the Devil, and many 
were entangled by him through that lure of his smooth language: 
which ihough 1 did commend, yet could I separate from the truth 
of the things which I was earne,'it to learn: nor do I so much regard 
the service of oratory as the science which this Faustus, so praised 
among them, set before me to feed upon. Fame had before be- 
spoken him most knowing in all valuable learning, and exquisitely 
skilled in the liberal sciences. And since I had read and well re- 
membered much of the philosophers, I compared some things of 
theirs with those long fables of the Manichees, and found the former 
the more probable; even although they could only prai/ail so jar 
as £0 ma\c judgment of this lower world, the Lord of it they could 
by no means find otitJ for Thau art great. O Lord, and hast respect 
unto the humble, but the proud Thou beholdest afar 0^.^ Nor dost 
thou draw near, but to the contrite in heartf nor art fotmd by the 
proud, no^ not though by curious skill they could number the stars 

^Wisd. si. 35, old vcri. 'Pi. \:fKnu a?. " Wiid. xiiL ft. *P6- cxsxviii, d. 



64 THE CONPESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

and the sand, jnd measure the starry henvens, and track the courses 
of tlie planets. 

For with their undersinnding :ind ^vit, which Thou bestowedst on 
them^ they search our these things; and much have they found out; 
and foretold, many years before, eclipses of those luminaries, the 
sun and moon, — ^vhat day and hour, and how many digits, — nor 
did iheir calculation fail; and it came to pass as they foretold; and 
they wrote down the rules they had found out, and these are read at 
this day, and out of them do others foretell in what year and month 
of the year» and whar day of the month, and what hour of the day, 
and what part of its hght, moon or sun is to be eclipsed and so it 
shall be, as it is foreshowed. At these things men, tliat know not 
this art, marvel and are astonished, and they that know it, exult, and 
are puffed up; and by an ungodly pride departing from Thee, and 
failing of Thy light, they foresee a failure of the sun's light, which 
shall be, so long before, but see not their own, which is. For they 
search no: religiously whence they have the wit, wherewith they 
search out this. And finding that Thou madest them, [hey give 
not themselves up to Thee, to preserve what Thou madest, nor sacri- 
fice to Thee what they have made themselves; nor slay their own 
soaring imaginations, as foivU of the ah; nor thi?if own diving curi- 
osities (wherewidi^ like the fishes of the j™^" they wander over 
the unknown paths of the abyss), nor their own luxuriousness, 
as beasts of the field, that Thoti. Lord, a consuiiiing fire," mayesc 
burn up those dead cares of theirs, and recreate themselves immor- 
tally. 

But they knew not the way. Thy Word," by Whom Thou madest 
these things which they number, and themselves who number, and 
the sense whereby they perceive ivhat they number, and die under- 
standing, out of which they number; or that 0} Tfiy wisdom there 
is no number}^ But the Only Begotten is Himself made unto us 
wisdom, atid righteousness, and sanctifieation" and was numbered 
among us, and paid tribute unto Cissar}^ They knew not this Way 
whereby to descend to Him from themselves, and by Him ascend 
unto Him. They knew not this way, and deemed themselves ex- 
alted amongst the stars and shining; and behold, they fell upon the 

'"Pi- viii. 7, 3- '^ Dtiir iv. =4. "John I, 3, '^Pi, cxrvli- 5. 
" I Cor I. ^0. '* Mmi. >Lvii, 37. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 6^ 

carih. and their joobsh heart was ilarf^enedy' They diiicour&e many 
things truly concerning the creaturej but Truths Artificer of ihe 
creature, they seet not piously, and. therefore find him noi; or if 
they find him» f^nowing Hini to be God, they glorify Him not as 
God, neither are thankjal, htit become vain in their imaginations, 
and pfojess ihc7nsdi^es to be ivis^,^^ jiitributing to themselves what 
is Tliine; and thereby with most perverse blindness, study to impute 
lo Thee what is [heir own, forging lies of Thee who art the Truth, 
and changing the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image 
made U\e corruptible man, and to birds, and jonr-jooted beasts, and 
creeping thi?igs, changing Thy truth into a lie, and tvor shipping and 
serving the ct'catiire more than the Creator}^ 

Yet many irnths concerning the creature retained I from these 
men, and saw the reason thereof from calculations, the succession 
of times, and the visible testimonies of the stars; and compared them 
with the saying of Manichius, vviiich in his frenzy lie had written 
most largely on these subjectsj but discovered not any account of 
the solstices, or equinoses, or the eclipses df die greater lights, nor 
whatever of this sort I had learned in the books of secular philoso- 
phy. But I was commanded to believe; and yet it corresponded not 
with what had been established by calculations and my own sight, 
but was quite contrary. 

Doth dien, O Lord God o£ Truth, whoso knowetb these things, 
therefore please Theef' Surely unliappy is he who knoweth all 
these, and ki^o^ve[h not Thee: bur happy whoso knoweth Thee, 
though he know not these. And whoso knoweth both Thee and 
diem is not tlie happier for them, but for Thee only, if, knoti/ing 
Thee, he glorifies Thee as God, and is thanl^id. and becomes not 
fain in his imaginations}^ For as he is better ofT who knows how 
to possess a tree, and return thanks to Thee ior the use thereof, 
although he know not how many cubits high it is, or how wide it 
spreads, than he that can measure it, and count all its boughs, and 
neither owns it, nor knows or loves its Creator: so a believer, whose 
al! this world of wealth is, and who having nothing, yet posscsseth 
all things,^** by cleaving unto Thee, whom all things serve, though 
he know not even the circles of the Great Bear, yet is it folly to 

'= Is. «v. 33; Rtv, nil 4i Hrtin. i- !t, I'Rom. 1. ai. '* Rom. i, 13. 
"iRum, L 21. "a Gfjf. vi. lO. 



66 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

doubt but he is in a belter state than one who can measure the 
heavens, and number the stars, and poise the dements, yet negkct- 
eth Thee who hast made all things in mtjnber^ a/eight, and rneas' 



ur^}' 



But yet who bade that Manich.Tus write on ihese things also, 
skill in which was no dement of pJeEy? P"or Thou hast said to man, 
Bshaid piety and tviidomf^ oE which he might be ignorant, though 
he had perfect knowledge of these things; but these things, since, 
knowing not, he most impudently dared to teach, he plainly cotild 
have no knowledge o£ piety. For it is vanity to make profession oi 
these worldly things even when kno^vn; but confession to Thee is 
piety. Wherefore ihis wanderer to this end spake much of these 
things, thai convicted hy those who had truly learned them, it might 
bo manifest what understanding he had in the other absiruser 
things. For he would not have himself meanly thought of, but went 
about to persuade men, "Th^i the Holy Ghost, the Comforter and 
Enricher of Thy faithful ones, was with plenary authority person- 
ally within him." When then he was found out to have taught 
falsely of the heaven and stars, and of the inoiions of the sun and 
moon (although these things pertain not to ihe doctrine of religion), 
yet his sacrilegious presumption would become evident enough, 
seeing he delivered things wlkich nol only he knew not, but which 
were falsified, wiih so mad a vaniiy of pride, [hat he sought to 
ascribe them to himself^ as to a divine person. 

For when 1 hear any Christian brother ignorant of these things, 
and mistaken on them, I can patiendy behold such a man holding 
his opinion; nor do I see that any ignorance as lo ihe position or 
character of the corporeal creation can injure him, so long as he 
doth noE believe any ihing unworihy of I'hee, O Lord, ihe Creator 
of all. But ft doth injure him, if he imagine it to pertain to the 
form of ihe doctrine of piety, and will yet afiirm that too stiffly 
whereof he is ignorant. And yet is even such an infirmity, in the 
infancy of failh, borne by our moiher Charityj till the newborn 
may grow up unto a perfect man. so as not to he carried about ivitk 
every wind of doctrine.'^ But in him who in such wise presumed 
to be the teacher, source, guide, chief of all whom he could so per- 

-'Wisd- Hi. 20. "Job. Ksviii. 2S. LXX. ^Eph-i^r. 13,14. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE &f 

suade, that whoso followed him thought that he followed, not a 
mere man, bur Thy Holy Spirit; who would nor judge that so great 
madness, whea once convicted of having taught any thing false^ 
wt?re to be detested jnd utierty rejected.- But I had not as yet 
cicarly ascertained whether ihe vici^Jtudes of longer and shorter 
days and nights, and of day and night itself, v/ith the eclipses of the 
greater lighls, and whatever else of the kind 1 had read of in other 
books, might be explained consisiendy with his sayings; so that, 
if they by any means mighi, it should remain a question to me 
whether it were so or no; but I might, on account of his reputed 
sanctity, rest my credence upon his authority. 

And for almost all those nine years, wherein with unsettled mind 
I had been their disciple^ I had longed but too intensely for the 
coming of this Fatistus. For the rest of the sect, ivhom by chance 
1 had lighted upon, when unable to solve my objections about these 
things, still held out to mc the coming of thi^ Faustus. by conference 
with whom these and greater dilHculties, if I bad them, were to be 
most readily and abundantly cleared. When then he came, I found 
him a man of pleasing discourse, and who could speak fluently and 
in better terms, yet still but the self-same things which they were 
wont to say. But what availed the utmost neatness of the cup-bearer 
to my thirst for a more precious draught? Mine ears were already 
doycd with the like, nor did they seem to me therefore better, be- 
cause better said; or therefore true, because eloquent; nor the soul 
therefore wise^ because the face was comely, and the language grace- 
fuh But they who held him out to mc were no good judges of 
things; and therefore to rhem he appeared understanding and wise, 
because in words pleasing. 1 felt however that another sort of peo- 
ple were suspicious even of truth, and refused to assent to it, \i de- 
livered in a smooth and copious discourse. But Thou, O my God, 
hadsE already taught me by wonderful and secret ways, and there- 
fore I believe that Thou laughtest me, because it is truth, nor is there 
besides Thee any teacher of truth, where or whenccsoever it may 
shine upon us. Of Thyself therefore had i now learned, that neither 
ought any thing to seem to be spoken truly, because eloquently; nor 
therefore falsely, because the utterance of the lips is inharmonious; 
nor, again^ iherefore true, because rudely delivered; or therefore 



68 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

false, because the language is rich; but that wisdom and £olly are as 
wholesome and unwholesome food; and adorned or unadorned 
phrases as courtly or country vessels; either kind o£ meats may be 
served up in ekher kind of dishes. 

That greediness then» \^'herewith I iiad of so lon;^ time e^pecte^J 
that man, was delighted verily with bis action and feeling when 
disputing, and his choice iind readiness o£ words to clothe his ideas. 
I was then delighted* and, with miiny otliets and more than they* 
did I praise jnd extol him. It troubled mc, however, that in the 
assembly of his auditors, 1 was not allowed to put in and commuiii- 
cate those queslions that troubled me, in familiar converse with him. 
Which ^vhcn 1 might, and with my friends began to engage his ears 
ar such times as it was not unbecoming for him to discuss with me, 
and had brought forward such things as moved me; I found him 
first utterly ignorant of liberal sciences, save grammar, and that but 
in an ordinary way. But because he had read some of Tully's Ora- 
tions, a very few books of Seneca, some things of the poets, and such 
few volumes of his own sect as were written in Latin and neatly, 
and was daily practised in speaking, he acquired a certain eloquence, 
which proved the more pleasing and seductive, because under the 
guidance of a good wit, and with a kind of natural gracefulness. Is 
it not thus, as 1 recall it, O Lord my God, Thou Judge of my con- 
science? before Thee is my heart, and my remembrance, Who didst 
at that time direct me by the hidden mystery of Thy providence, 
and didst set those shameful errors of mine before my face, that 1 
mi^ht see and hate them.^* 

For after it was clear that he was ignorant of those arts in which 
I thought he excelled, 1 began to despair of his opening and solving 
the dillicuhies which perplexed me (of which indeed however igno- 
rant, he might have held the truths of piety, had he not been a 
Manichee). For their books are fraught with prolix fable, of the 
heaven, and stars, sun, and moon, and 1 now no longer thought him 
able satisfactorily to decide what 1 much desired, whether, on com- 
parison of the^ things with the calculations I had elsewhere read, 
ihe account given in the books of Manichicus were preferable, or 
ai least as good- Which when I proposed lo be considered and 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE ^ 

discussed, he» so far modestly, shrunk from the burthen. For he 
knew that he knew not these things, and was not a&hamed to confess 
it. For he was not one of [ho,'ie tjdking persofis, miny of whom 1 had 
endured, who undertook to teach mc these things, and said nothing. 
But this man had a heart, though not right towards Thee, yet 
neither altogether treacherous to himself. For he was not aUogether 
ignorant of his own ignorance, nor would he lashly be entangled in 
a dispute, whence he cotild neither retreat iioi estricate himself 
fairly. Even for diii 1 hked h[m the beUer. For fairer is the modesiy 
of a candid mind, than the knowledge of those things which I de- 
sired; and such 1 found him, in all the more difficult and subtile 
questions. 

My aeal for the writings o£ Manichicus being thus blunted, and 
despairing yet more of their other teachers, seeing that in divers 
things which perplexed me, he, so renowned among them, had so 
turned out; 1 began to engage :vith him in the study of that litera- 
ture, on which he also was much set (and which as rhetoric-reader 
I was at that time teaching young students at Carthage), and to 
read with him> eidier what himself desired to hear, or such as I 
judged fit for his genius. But ah my ciTorts whereby I had purposed 
to advance in that sect, upon knowledge of that man, came utterly 
to an end; not that I detached myself from them aliogeiheri but 
as one finding nothing better, 1 had settled to be content mean- 
while with what I had in whatever way fallen upon, unless by 
chance something more eligible should dawn upon me. Thus Uiat 
Faustus, to so many a snare of death, had now, neither willing nor 
witting ii, begun to loosen that wherein 1 was taken. For Thy 
hands, O my God, in the secret purpose of Thy providence, did not 
forsake my soul; and out of my mother's heart's blood, through her 
tears night and day poured out, was a sacrifice offered for me unto 
Thee; and Thou didst deal with me by wondrous ways,"'' Thou 
didst it, O my God: for the ileps of a inaji are ordered by the Lord, 
and He shall disposi^ his n/ay."^ Or how shall we obtain salvation, but 
from Thy hand, re-making what it made? 

Thou didst deal with mc, tliat I should be persuaded Co go to Rome, 
and to teach there rather, what I was teaching at Carthage, Arid 



70 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE 

how I was persuaded to this, 1 will not neglect to confess to Thee: 
because herein also the deepest recesses o£ Thy wisdom, and Thy 
most present mercy to us, must he considered and confessed. I did 
not wish therefore to go to Rome, hecause higher gaisis and higher 
drgnities were warranted me by my friends who persnaded me to 
ibis (though even ihcuQ things had at that time an influence over 
my mind), but my chief and almost only reason was, that I beard 
that young men studied there more peacefully, and were kept quiet 
under a restraint of more regular discipline; so Lbat they did not, at 
thcTt pleasures, petulantly rush into the school ot one whose pupils 
they were not, nor were even admitted without his permission. 
Whereas at Carihage there reigns among the scholars a most dis- 
graceful and unruly licence. They burst in audaciously, and with 
gestures almost franiic, disturb all order which any one hath estab- 
hshed for the good of bis scholars. Divers outrages they commit, 
wilh a wonderful stolidity, punishable hy law, did not custom up- 
hold them; rhar custom evincing ihem to be the more miserable, in 
that they now do as lawful what by Thy eternal law shall never be 
lawful; and they think they do it unpunished, whereas they are 
punished with the very bhndness whereby tbey do it, and suffer 
incomparably worse Eh;m what they do. The manners then which, 
when a student, I would not make my own, I was fain as a teacher 
to endure in oibers: and so 1 was well pleased to go where, all that 
knew it, assured me that the tike was not done. But Thou, ^uy 
refuge and my portion in the land oj the iwirjg;-' that 1 might 
change my earthly dwelling for the salvation of my soul, at Cartilage 
didst goad me, ihac I might diercby be torn from it" and at Kome 
didst proffer me allurements, whereby 1 might be drawn thiiher, by 
men in love with a dying life, the one doing frantic, the other 
promising vain, things; and, to correct my steps, didst secretly use 
their and my own perverseness. For both they who disturbed my 
quiet were blinded with a disgraceful frenzy, and tbey who invited 
me elsewhere savoured of earth. And 1, who here detested real 
misery, was there seeking unreal happiness. 

Bui why I went hence, and went thither, Thou knewest, O God, 
yet showedst ic neither to me, nor ro my mother, who grievously 

^Ps. tvlii. 5. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 7I 

bewailed my journey, and followed me ai far as the sea. But 1 de- 
ceived her, holding me by force, that either she might keep me back 
or go with me, and I feigned that I had a friend whom 1 could 
not leave, till he had a fair wind to saiL And I lied to mv mother, 
and such a mother, and escaped: for this also hast Thou mercifully 
forgiven me, preserving me, thus full o£ execrable defilements, from 
the waters of the sea, for the water of Thy Grace; whereby when 1 
was cleansed* the streams of my mother's eyes should be dried, with 
which for me she daily watered the ground under her face. And 
yet refusing to return without me, I scarcely persuaded her to stay 
that night in a place hard by our ship, where was an Omtory in 
memory of the blessed Cyprian. That night I privily departed, but 
she was not behind in weeping and prayer. And what, O L-ord, 
was she with so many tears asking of Thee, but that Thou wouldst 
not suffer me to saili* But Thou, in the depth of Thy counsels and 
hearing [he main point of her desire, regardedst not what she then 
asked, that Thou mightest make me what she ever asked. The 
wind blew and swelled our sails, and ivithdrcw die shore from our 
sight; and she on the morrow was there, Erantic with sorrow, and 
with complaints and groans filled Thine cars, who didst then dis- 
regard thern; whilst through my desires. Thou wert hurrying me 
to end Eill desire, and the earthly parL of her alTectiou to me was 
chastened by the allotted scourge of sorrows. Fur she loved my 
being with her, as mothers do, but much more than many; and she 
knew not how great joy Thou wert about to work for her out of my 
absence. She knew not; therefore did she weep and wail, and by 
this agony there appeared in her the inheritance of Eve, with sorrow 
seeking what in sorrow she had brought forth. And yet, after ac- 
cusing my treachery and hardheartedness, she betook herself again 
to intercede to Thee for me, went to her wonted place, and I to 
Rome. 

And lo, there wa? I received by the scourge of bodily sickness, and 
I was going down to hell, carrying all the sins which I had com- 
mitted, both against Thee, and myself, and others, many and griev- 
ous, over and above that bond of original sin, whereby ii-e all die 
in Adam^ For Thou hadst not forgiven me any of these things 

^ I Cor- };v, 32, 



^2 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTTNE 

in Christ, nor had He eboUshed by His cross the enrnity which by 
my sins I had incurred with Ihec. For how should He» by the 
crucifixion of a ph^ntiism^ which I believed Him to be? So true^ 
ihen, was the dc:;uh of my soul, :is ibat o£ His flesh seemed to me 
false; and how true the death of His body, so false was the life of 
my soul, which did not believe it. And now the fever heightening, 
I was parting and departing for ever. For h;id I then parted hence, 
whiiher had I dep.-^rted, but into fire and torments, such as my 
misdeeds deserved in the truth of Thy appointmenEi^ And this she 
knew noc, yet in absence prayed for me. But Thou, everywhere' 
present, heardesl her :vhere she was, and, where 1 was, hadst com- 
passion upon mc; that I shouid recover the heahh of my body, 
[hough frenzied as yet in my sacrilegious heart. For I did not in 
ah that danger desire Thy baptism; and I was better as a boyj when 
I begged it of my mother's piety, as 1 have before recited and con- 
fessed. But 1 had grown up to my own shame, and J madly scoffed 
at the prescripts of Thy medicine, who woutdcst not suffer me, being 
such, to die a double death. With which wound had my mother^s 
hearc been pierced, it could never be healed. For I caniiot express 
the affection she bare to me, and with how much more vehement 
anguish she was now in labour of me in the spirit, than at her child- 
bearing in the ilesh,^' 

I see not then how she should have been healed, had such a death 
of mine stricken through the bowels of her love. And where would 
have been those her so strong and unceasing prayers, unintermitting 
to Thee alone? But wouldest Thou, God of mercies, despise the 
cotitritc and humbled heart^ of that chaste and sober widow, so fre- 
quent in alms-deeds, so full of duty and service to Thy saints, no 
day intermitting the ohJation at Thine altar, twice a day, morning 
and evening, without any intermission, coming to Thy church, not 
for idle taidings and old wives' fables f^ but that she mighc hear 
Thee in Thy discourses, and Thou her in her prayers. Couldest 
Thou despise and reject from Thy aid the tears of such an one, 
wherewith she begged of Thee not gold or silver, nor mutable or 
parsing good, but the salvation of her son's soul? Thou, by whose 
gift she was suchi' Never, Lord. Yea, Thou wert at hand, and wert 

2*Gd. iv, 9. ^Op^ Ij J-, 31 , y^ ^ jo_ 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGDSTINE 73 

hearing and doing, in that order wherein Thou hadst determined 
before [hat it should be done. Far be it that Thou shouldest deceive 
her in Thy visions and an&xvers, some whereof I have, some 1 have 
not memionedj which she laid up in her faithful heart, and ever 
praying urgtd upon Thee, as Thine own handwriting. For Thou, 
hecausrf Thy taercy endiireth for ecer. vouchiafest to those to whom 
Thou forgivesE all their debts, to t>ecome also a debtor by Thy 
proniijies- 

Thou recovered St me then of ihat sickness, and healedst ihe son 
of Thy handmaid, for the time in body, that he might live, for 
Thee to bestow upon him a better and more abiding health. And 
even then, at Rome, I joined myself to those deceiving and deceived 
"holy ones"; nor with their disciples only (of which number was 
he, in whose house 1 had fallen sick and recovered) i but also with 
those whom they call 'T'he Elect." For I still thought "that it was 
not we that sin^ but that I know not what other nature sinned in 
us"; and it delighted my pride, to be free from blame; and when 
I had done any evil, not to confess I had done any, that Thou mlght- 
est heal my soul because it had sinned against Thee:^ but \ loved 
to excuse it, and to accuse I know not what other thing, which was 
with mc, but which I was not. But in truth it was wholly I, and 
mine impiety had divided me against myself: and that sin was the 
more incurable, whereby 1 did not judge myself a sinner; and t\^ 
crable iniquity it was, that I had rather have Thee, Thee, O God 
Almighty, to be overcome in me to my destruction, than myself of 
Thee to salvation. Not as yet then hadst Thou set a watch before 
my mouth, and a door of safe peeping around my lips, that my 
heart might not turn aside to wie^ed speeches, to ma^e excuses of 
sins, wish men that ii^or^ iniquicy: and, therefore, was I still united 
Ufirh their Elect^ 

But now despairing to make proficiency in that false doctrine, 
even those (with which if I should find no better, \ had resolved to 
rest contented) 1 now held more laxly and carelessly. For there 
half arose a thought in me that tliose philosophers, wliom they call 
Academics, were wiser than the rest, for that tliey held men ought to 
doubl everything, and laid down that no truth can be compre- 



k 



74 '^^^ CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

hended by man: for so, noi iheji understiinding even their meaning* 
1 also was dearly convinced that ihey thought, as they are com- 
monly reported. Yet did 1 freely and openly discourage thai host of 
mine from that over-confidence which 1 perceived him to have in 
those fables, which the books of Manichsus are full of. Yet 1 lived 
in more familiar friendship with them, than wiih others who were 
not of this heresy^ Nor did 1 maintain it with my ancient eager- 
ness; still my intimacy with that sect (Rome setrelly harbouring 
many of them) m^de me slower to seek any other way: especially 
since I despaired o£ finding the trtiih* from which they had turned 
me aside, in Thy Church, O Lord of heaven and earth, Creator o£ 
all things visible and invisible: and it seemed to me unseemly to 
believe Thee to have the shape of human flesh, and to be bounded 
by the bodily lineaments of our members. And because, when I 
wished to think on my God» 1 knew not what to think of, but a 
mass of bodies {for what was not such did not seem to me to be 
any thing), this was the greatest, and almost only cause of my in- 
evitable error. 

For hence I believed Evil also to be some such kind of substance, 
and 10 iiave its own foul and hideous bulki whether gross, whicli 
they called earth, or thin and subtile (like the body of the air), 
which they imagine to be some malignant mind, creeping through 
that earth. And because a piety, such as it was, constrained me to 
believe that the good God never created any evil nature, I conceived 
two masses, contrary to one another, both unboundedi but tlie evil 
narrower, the good more expansive. And from this pestilent be- 
ginning, the other sacrilegious conceits followed on me. For when 
my mind endeavoured to recur to the Catholic faith, 1 was driven 
back, since that was not the Catholic faith which I thought to be 
so. And I seemed to myself more reverential, if 1 believed of Thee, 
my God (to whom Thy mercies confess out of my mouth), as un- 
bounded, at least on other sides, aUhough on that where the mass of 
evil ^vas opposed lo Thee, 1 was constrained to confess Thee 
bounded; than if on all sides I should imagine Thee to be bounded 
by tlie form of a human body. And it seemed to me better to believe 
Thee to have created no evil (which to me ignorant seemed not 
some only, but a bodily substance, because 1 could not conceive of 



THE CONFESSTOXS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 75 

mind unless as a subtile body, and that diffused in definite spaces)i 
than to believe die nature d£ evil, such as 1 conceived it, could 
come from Thee, Yej, juid our Saviour Himself, Thy Only Be- 
gorten, I bclicyed to have been reached Ford^ (as it were) for our sal- 
vation, out of [he mass of Thy most lucid substance, so as to believe 
nothing of HirUj but what I could imagine in my vanity. His Na- 
ture then, being such, I thought could not be born of the Virgin 
Mary^ without being mingled widi the ficsh: and how that which 1 
had so figured to myself could be mij:igled, and not defiled, 1 saw 
not. I feared therefore Co believe Him born in the fleshy lest I should 
be forced to believe Him defiled by the fiesh. Now will Thy spirit- 
ual ones mildly and lovingly smile upon mc, if ihey shall read these 
my confessions. Yei such ^vas I, 

Furthermore, what ihe Manichecs had criticised in Thy Scrip- 
tures, I thought could not be defended; yet at times verily I had a 
wish ro confer upon these several points \^'ith some one very well 
skilled in those books, and to make trial what he thought thereon: 
for the words of one Helpidius, as he spoke and disputed face to 
face against the said Manichees, had begun to stir me even at Car- 
thage: in that he h:id produced things out of the Scriptures, not easily 
withstood, the Manichees' answer whereto seemed to me weak. And 
this answer they liked not to give publicly, but only to us in private. 
It was, that the Scriptures of the New Testament had been corrupted 
by 1 know not whom^ who wished to cngraff the law of the Jews 
upon the Cliriitian faith: yet themselves produced not any uncor- 
rupied copies. But 1, conceiving of things corporeal only, was mainly 
held down, vehemently oppressed and in a manner suffocated by 
those "masses'^; panting under which after the breath o£ Thy rmth, 
I could not breathe it pure and umainied. 

1 began then diligently to practise that for which I came to Rome, 
to teach rhetoric; and first, to gather some to my house^ to whom, 
and through whom, I had begun to be known; when io, 1 found 
other offences committed in Rome, to which 1 was not exposed in 
Africa, True, those **subvertings" by profligate young men were 
not here practised, as was told me: but on a sudden, said they, 10 
avoid paying their master's stipend, a number of youths plot to- 
geihefj and remove to another; — breakers o£ faith, who for love of 



7^ THE CONFESSIONS OP ST. AUGUSTINE 

money hold justice cheap. These alaj my heart hated, rhoug^h not 
with a perfect hatred'^^ for perchjincc I h:r[ed them more because 1 
was to suffer by [hem, ihan because they did things utierly unlaw- 
ful. Of a rrurh jicich are base persons, ,ind they go a whoring from 
Thee, loving these fleeiijig mockeries of iJiings temporal, and filihy 
lucre, which fouls ihe hand that grasps ii; hugging the fleeting 
world* and despising Thee, who abidest, and recaliesi, and fotgiv- 
esi Ehe adiiUercss soul ol in^in, when she returns to Thee- And now 
1 hate such depraved and crooked persons, though I love them if 
corrigible, so as to prefer to money the learning which they acquire, 
and to ieiirning, Thoe* O God, the truth and fulness of iissured 
good* and most pure peace. But then 1 rather for my own sake 
misliked them evil, than hked and wished them good for Thine, 

When therefore they o£ Milan hjtl sent to Rome to the prefect 
of the city, to furnish them with a rhetoric reader for their city, and 
send him at the public expense, i made application (through those 
very persons, intoxicated with Manich3?an vanities, to be freed 
wherefrom I was to go, neither of us however knowing it) that 
SymmachuSj then prefect of the city, would try mc by setting me 
some subject, and 50 send me. To Milan I came, to Ambrose the 
Bishop, known to the whole world as among (he best of men, Thy 
devout servant; whose eloquent discourse did then plentifully dis- 
pense unto Thy people [he flour of 1 hy wheat, the gladness of T hy 
oil, and the sober inebriation of Thy wine." To him was I un- 
kno^ving led by Thee, that by him I might knowingly be led to 
Thee. That man of God received me as a father, and showed me 
an Episcopal kindness on my coming. Thenceforth 1 began to love 
him, at first indeed not as a teacher of the truth (which I utterly 
despaired of \i\ Thy Church), but as a person kind towards myself- 
And I listened diligently to him preaching to the people, not with 
that intent I ought, but, ;is it were, trying his eloquence, whether it 
answered the fame thereof, or flowed fuller or louver than was re- 
ported; and 1 hung on his words attentively; but of the matter I was 
as a careless and scornful looker-on; and I was delighted with the 
sweetness of his discourse, more recondite, yet in manner less win- 
ning and harmonious, than that of Fausius. Of the matter, how- 

3*Ps, cxxxix. 22. ^Ps. iv, jj civ- 15. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 77 

ever, iherc was no comparison- for the one was wandering amid 
M;iiuch^,in dekisiojis, ihe other leaching salvation mosc soundiyn 
But sffliration it far frorn sinnets,^^ such as 1 then stood before him; 
and as yet was I drawing nearer by hltlt: and little, and uncon- 
sciously. 

For though 3 look no pains to learn what he spake, but only to 
hear how he spake {for thai empty care alone was left me. despair- 
ing of a way, open for man, to Thee), yet together with the words 
which 1 would choose, came also into my mind the things which 
I would refuse; for I could not separate tliem. And while I opened 
my heart to admit "how eloquently he spake/' there also entered 
"how truly he spake;" but this by degrees. For first, [hese diings 
also had now begun to appear Co me capable o£ defence; and the 
Catholic faidi, for \vhich I had thought nothing coutd be said against 
the Manichees' objections, I now thought might be maintained 
without shamelessness; especially after I had heard one or two 
places of the Old Testament resolved, and ofttimes "in a jigiire!'^^ 
which when 1 understood literally, 1 was slain spiritualty. Very 
many places then of those books having been explained, I now 
blamed my despair, in believing that no answer could be given to 
such as hated and scolTed at the Law and the Prophets. Yet did I 
not therefore then see that the Catholic way was to be held, because 
it also could find learned maintaineis, who could at large and with 
some show of reason answer objections; nor that what I held was 
therefore to be condemned, because both sides could be maintained. 
For the Caiholic cause seemed to me in such sort not vanquished, 
as still not as yet to be victorious. 

Hereupon 1 earnestly bent my mind, to see if in any way 1 could 
by any certain proof convict ihe Manichees of falsehood. Could 1 
once have conceived a spiritual substance, all their strongholds had 
been beaten down, and cast utterly out of my mind; but I could 
not. Notwithstanding, concerning the frame of this world, and the 
whole of nature, which the senses of the flesh caji reach to, as I more 
and more considered and compared things, I judged (be tenets of 
most of the philosophers to have been much more probable. So then 
after the manner of the Academics (as ihey are supposed) doubting 
^ Ps. cKJv. 155. " 1 Cor, xiii. i3i 1 Cor. iji. 6. 



3^ THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

of evcryEbirg^ and wavering between all^ I seided so Ear, that the 
Maokhees were to be abandoned; judging that, even while doubt- 
ing^ 1 might not continue in that seci^ to which 1 already preferred 
some of [he philosophers; to which philosophers notwiihstanding, 
for LhaE they were withouL [he saving N.fme of Christ* i utterly re- 
fused to commit the cure of my sick soul. I determined therefore 
so long to be a Catechumen in the Catholic Church, to which I had 
been commended by my p-irenis, till something certain should dawn 
upon me, whither I might steer my coursi^. 



THE SIXTH BOOK 

Arrival of Monnica at Milan; bcc oliedience to St. Ambrose, and his 
value for her; Si. Ambrose's Jiabiu; Augustine's gradual abandon- 
ment of error; finds thai he ha^ bhnicd the Chaich Caihohc wrongJy; 
desire of absolute certainty, but struck, with ihe contrary analogy of 
God*^ natural Providence; how shaken in his worldly pursuits; God'5 
guidance of his friend Alypius; Augustine debates with Jiimself and 
his friends about their mode of life; his inveturare sins, and dread 
of judgment. 

^^ THOU, my hope froin my youtk^ where wert Thou to 
m m "^^7 ^^'^ whither wcrt Thou gone? Hadst not Thou cre- 
VjX ated me, and separated me from the heasEs of the field, and 
fowls of the air? Thou hadsi madG me wiser^ yet did I walk in dark- 
ness, and Jn slippery places, and sought Thee abroad out of my- 
self, and found not the God of my heart; and had come into the 
depths of the sea, and distrusted and deapjired of ever finding truth. 
My mother had now come lo me, resolute through piety, following 
me over sea and land, in all perils confiding in Thee, For in perils 
of the sea, she comforted the very mariners (by whom passengers 
unacquainted with the deep, use rather to be comforted when trou- 
bled)^ assuring them of a safe arrival, because Thou hadst by a 
vision assured her thereof. She found mc in grievous peril, through 
despair of ever finding truth. But when I had discovered to her thar 
I was now no longer a Manichee, though not yet a Catholic Chris- 
tian, she was not overjoyed, as at something unexpected; although 
she was now assured concerning that part of my misery, for which 
she bewailed me as one dead, though tn be reawakened by Thee, 
carrying me forth upon the bier of her thoughts, that Thou mightest 
say to the son oj the widoiv. Young tnan, I say unto thes. Arise; and 
he should revive, and begin to speti^. and thou shoiddest deiii/cr him 
to his mother!^ Her heart then wa^ shaken with no tumuhuous ex- 
ulcation, when she heard that what she daily desired of Thee was 

'P*. \x.v.i. 5. =Lukc vii. i^, 15. 
79 



8o THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

already in io great part realised; in that, though I had not yet ai- 
laincd ihe irulh, J was rescued from falsehood; bui, as being assured, 
that Thou, who hadst promised the whole» wouldest one day give 
the rest» most calmly^ and with a heart fuH of confideTice^ she re- 
plied to me, "She beheved in Christ, that before she departed this 
life, she should see me a Catholic believer." Thus much to me. But 
to Thee, Fountain o£ mercies, poured she forth more copious pray- 
ers and tears, that Thou wouldest hasten Thy help, and enlighten 
my darkness; and she hastened the more eagerly to the Church, and 
hung upon [he lips of Ambrose, praying for the fountain of that 
water, which springcth up unto life ^nerlasting? Bui that man she 
loved as an angel of God, because she knew that by him I had been 
brought for the present to that doubtful state of faith I now was in, 
through which she anticipated most confidently that 1 should pass 
from sickness unto health, after the access, as it were, of a sharper 
fil, which physicians call "the crisis." 

When then my mother had once, as she was wont in Afric, brought 
to the Churciies built jn memory of the Saints, certain cakes, and 
bread and wine, and was forbidden by the door-kee}>er; so soon as 
she knew that the Bishop had forbidden this, she so piously and 
obediently embraced his wishes, that 1 myself wondered how rea<iily 
she censured her own practice, rather than discuss his prohibition. 
For wine-bibbing did not lay siege to her spirit, nor did love of 
wine provoke her to hatred of the Irulh^ as it doth too many (both 
men and womcn)^ who revolt at a lesson of sobriety, as men well- 
drunk at a draught mingled with water. But she, when she had 
brought her basket with the accustomed festival-food, to be but 
lasted by herself, and then given away, never joined therewith more 
than one small cup of wine, diluted according to her own abstem- 
ious habits^ which for courtesy she would taste. And if there were 
many churches of the departed saints that were to be honoured in 
that manner, she still carried round that same one cup, to be used 
every wherej and this, though not only made very watery, but un- 
pleasandy healed with carrying about, she would distribute to those 
about her by small sips; for she sought there devotion, not pleasure. 
So soon, then, as she found this custom to be forbidden by that 

^ Jokn iv. 14. 



THE CONFESSION'S OP ST. AUGUSTINE 8l 

famous preacher and most pious prelate, even lo ihose that would 
use it soberly^ lest so an occasion of excess might be given to the 
drunken; and for ihac these^ as it were, anniversary funeral solemni- 
ties did much resemble the superstition of the Gentiles, she most 
willingly forbare it: and for a basket filled with fruits o£ the earth, 
she had learned to bring lo the Churches of the martyrs a breast 
filled with more purified petitions, and to give what she could to 
[he poor; that so the communication of the Lord's Body might be 
there rightly celebrated, where, after the example of His Passion, 
the martyrs had been sacrificed and crowned. But yet it seems to 
me, O Lord my God, and thus thinks my heart o£ it in Thy sight, 
that perhaps she would not so readily have yielded [o the cutting 
off o£ this custom, had it been forbidden by another, whom she loved 
not as Ambrose, whom, for my salvation, she loved most entirely; 
and he her again, for her most religious conversation, whereby in 
good works, jo feri/sntin spirit, she was constant at church; so that, 
when he saw me, be often burst forth into her praises; congratulat- 
ing me that I had such a mother; not knowing what a son she had 
in me, who doubted of all these tilings, and imagined the way to 
life could not be found out. 

Nor did i yet groan in my prayers, that Thou wouldest help me; 
but my spirit was wholly intent on Teaming, and restless to dispute. 
And Ambrose himself, as the world counts happy, I esteemed a 
happy man, whom personages so great held in such honour; only 
his celibacy seemed to me a painful course. But what hope he 
bore within him, what struggles he had against the temptations 
which beset his very excellencies, or what comfort in adversities, and 
what sweet joys Thy Bread had for the hidden mouth of his spirit, 
when chewing the cud thereof, I neither could conjecture, nor had 
experienced. Nor did he know the tides of my feelings, or the abyss 
of my danger. For 1 could not ask of him, what I would as 1 
would, being shut out boih from his ear and speech by multitudes 
of busy people, whose weaknesses he served. With whom when he 
was not laken up (which was but a little lime), he was either re- 
freshing his body with the sustenance absolutely necessary, or his 
mind with reading- But when he was reading, his eye glided over 
the pages, and his heart searched out the sense, but his voice and 



i 



-1 



82 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

Eongue were ar rest. OftLimcs when wc h:id come (for no man was 
forbidden no enter, nor was il hia worm iIyjI any who came should 
be announced to him), wc saw him thus reading to himself, and 
never otherwise; and having long sat silent (for who durst intrude 
on one so intenEp) we were £ain to depart, conjecturing thai in the 
small interval which he obfained, free from the din of odiers' bua- 
ness, for the recruiting of his mind, he was lodi to be taken off; 
and perchance he dreaded lest if the author he read should deliver 
any thing obscurely, some attentive or perplexed hearer should de- 
sire him to expound (I, or to discuss some of the hiirder questions; 
so that his Lime being thus .^pcnt, he could not turn over so many 
volumes as Ijg desired; although the preserving of his voice (which 
a very little speaking would weaken) might be the truer reason for 
his reading to himself. But with whac intent soever he did it^ 
certainly in such a man it was good. 

I however certainly had no opportunity of enquiring what I 
wished of that so holy oracle of Thine, his breast, unless the thing 
might be answered briefly- But those tides in me, to be poured out 
to him, required his full leisure, and never found it. I heard him 
indeed every Lord's day, rightly expounding the Word of iruth^ 
among the people; and I was more and more convinced ihat all the 
knots of those crafty calumnies, which those our deceivers had knit 
against the Divine Books, could be unravelled. But when I under- 
stood withal, that "jtian, created by Thee after Thine own image," 
was not so understood by Thy spiritual sons, whom of the Catholic 
Mother Thou hast born again through grace as though they be- 
lieved and conceived of Thee as bounded by human shape (although 
what a spiritual substance should be I had not even a faint or 
shadowy notion) ; yet, with joy I blushed at having so many years 
barked not against the Catholic faith, but against the fictions of 
carnal imaginations. For so rash and impious had 1 been, that what 
I ought by enquiring to have learned, I had pronounced on, con- 
demning. For Thou, Most High, and most near; most secret, and 
most present; Who hast not hmbs some kirger, aomc smaller, but 
art wholly every where, and no where in space, art not of such 

* z Tim. Ji. 15. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 83 

corporeal shnpe, yet hast Thou made man after Thine own image; 
and behold, from head to foot is he comained in space. 

Ignorani then how this Thy imjige should subsist, 1 should have 
knocked and proposed the douht, how it: was to be believed, not in- 
sultingly opposed it, as if believed. Doubt, then, what to hold for 
certain, the more sliarply gnawed my hearty Lbe more a&liamed I was, 
that so long deluded and deceived by the promise of certainties, 1 
had widi childish error and vehemence, prated of so many uncer- 
tainties. For that they were falsehoods became clear to me later. 
However 1 was certain that they were uncertain, and that I had 
formerly accounted ihem certain^ when with a blind contentious- 
ness, I accused Thy Catholic Church, whom I now discovered, not 
indeed as yet to teach truly, but at least not to teach that for which 
I had grievously censured her. So 1 was confounded, and converted; 
and I joyed, O my God, th^t the One Only Church, the body of 
Thine Only Son (wherein the name of Christ had been put upon 
me as an infant), had no taste for infantine conceits; nor in her 
sound doctrine maintained any tenet which should confine Thee, the 
Creator of all, in space, however great and large, yet bounded every 
where by the limits of a human form. 

1 joyed also that the old Scriptures of the law and the Prophets 
were laid before me, not now [o be perused with ih?t eye to which 
before they seemed absurd, when 1 reviled Thy holy ones for so 
thinking, whereas indeed they diought not so: and widi joy I heard 
Ambrose in his sermons to ttie people, oftentimes most diligently 
recommend this text for a rule, Theletlsr ^ilUlh, hut the Spirit givetk 
life;'' whilst he drew aside the mystic veil, laying open spiritually 
what, according to the Icctcr> seemed to teach something unsound; 
teaching herein nothing that offended me, tliough he laughr what 
I knew not as yet, whether it were true. For I kept my heart from 
assenting to any thing, fearing to fall headlong; bur by hanging in 
suspense I was the worse billed. For I wished to be as assured of 
the things I saw not, as I was that seven and three are ten. For 1 
was not so mad as to think that even this could not be compre^ 
bended; but I desired to have other things as clear as this, whether 

* 2 Cor. iJL 6. 



84 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

things corporeal, which were not present to my senses, or spTritual, 
whereof 1 knew not hoiv to conceivp, except corporeally- And by 
believing might I have been cured^ that so the eyesight of my soul 
being cleared, might in some way be directed co Thy truth, which 
abidech always, and in no part faileih. But as it happens [hat one 
who has tried a bad physician, fears to [rust himself with a good one, 
so was it with the health of my soul* which could not be healed but 
by believing, and lest it should believe falsehoods, refused to be 
cured; resisting Thy hands, who hast prepared the medicines of 
faith, and hast applied them to the diseases of the whole world, and 
given unto them so great audiofily. 

Being led, however, from, this to prefer the Catholic doctrine, I 
felt that her proceeding was more unassuming and honest, in that 
she required to be believed things not demonstrated (whether it was 
chat they could in themselves be demonstrated but not to certain 
persons, or could not at all be), whereas among the Manichees our 
credulity was mocked by a ptomise of certain knowledge, and then 
so many most fabulous and absurd things were imposed to be be- 
lieved, because they could not be demonstrated. Then Thou, O Lord, 
litde by little with most lender and most merciful hand, touching and 
composing my heart, didst persuade me — considering what innu- 
mcrable things I believed, which I saw not, nor was present while 
they were done, as so many things in secular history, so many re- 
ports of places and of cities, which I had not seen; so many of 
friends, so many of physicians, so many continually of other men, 
which unless we should believe, we should do nothing at all in this 
life; lasdy, with how unshaken an assurance I believed of what par- 
ents I was born, which 1 could not know, had I not believed upon 
hearsay— considering all this. Thou didst persuade me, that not they 
who believed Thy Books (^vhich Thou hast established in so great 
Stlthority among almost all nations), but they who believed them 
not, were to be blamed; and that they were not to be heard who 
should say to me, "How knowesl thou those Scriptures to have been 
imparted unto mankind by the Spirit of the one true and most true 
Cjod?" For this very thing was of all most to be believed, since no 
contentiousness of blasphemous questionings, of all that multitude 
which I had rejd in the sclf-contradicting philosophers, could wring 



1 

J 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE 8^. 

this belief from mc^ "That Thou *irt" whaisoever Thou wert (what 
1 knew noi)^ and '^That ihe governmenr of human things belongs 
to Thec.'^ 

This I beiieved^ sometimes more strongly^ more weakly othci- 
whiles; yei 1 ever believed both that Thou wcrt, and hadst a care 
o£ us; though 1 was ignorant, both what ^vas to be thought of Thy 
substance, and what way ied or led back to Thee, Since then we 
were too weak by abstracE reasonings to find out irulh: and for this 
very cause needed the authority of Holy Writ; I had now begun to 
believe that Thou wouldest never have given such excellency of at:- 
thority to that Writ in all lands, hadst Thou not willed thereby 
10 be believed in» thereby sought. For now what things^ sounding 
strangely in the Scripture* were wont to offend me, having heard 
divers of diem expounded satisfactorily, I referred to the depths of 
the mysteries, and its authority appeared to nie the more venerable, 
and more worthy of religious credence, in that, while it lay open 
to all to read^ it reserved the majesty of its mysteries within its pro- 
founder meaning, stooping to all in the great plainness of its words 
and lowliness of its style, yet calling forth the Intensost application 
of such as are noE light of hearE; that so it might receive all in its 
open Ijosom^ and through narrow passages waft over towards Ihee 
some ieWy yef many more than if it stood not aloft on such a heiglit 
of authority, nor drew multitudes within its bosom by its holy low- 
liness. These things 1 thought on* and Thou wert with me; I 
sighed, and Thou heardest me; 1 wavered, and Thou didst guide 
jme; 1 wandered through the broad way of d^e world, and Thou 
did^i not forsake me, 

I panted after honours, gains, marriage; and Thou deridest me. 
In these desires I underwent most bitter crosses, Thou being the 
more gracious, the less Thou suflercdsT aught to grow sweet to me^ 
^vhich was not Thou, Behold my heart, O Lord, ivho ^vouldesi I 
should remember all this, and confess to Thee. Let my soul cleave 
unro Thee, now that Thou hast freed it from that fast-holding bird- 
lime of death. How wretched was itl and Thou didst irritate the 
feeling of its wound, that forsaking all else, it might be converted 
unto Thee, who art above all, and without whom all things would 
be nothing; be converted, and be healed. How miserable was 1 



t; 



SS THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

then, and how didst Thou deal with me, to make me feci my misery 
on that day, when I was preparing to recite a pjinegyric of the Em- 
peror, wherein I was to uLter many a lie, and lying, was to be ap- 
plauded by those who knew 1 lied, and my heari: was paniing with 
these anxiecics, and boiling with the feverishness of consuming 
thoughts. For, passing through one of the streets of Milan, 1 ob- 
served a poor beggar, [hen, I suppose, with a full belly, joking and 
joyous: and I sighed, and spoke to the friends around me, of the 
many sorrows of our frenzies; for that by all such elTorts of ours, as 
those wherein I then toiled^ dragging along, under the goading of 
desire^ the burthen of my own wretchedness, and, by dragging, aug- 
menting it, we yet looked to arrive only 3t that very joyousness 
whither that beggar-man had arrived before us, who should never 
perchance attain if. For what he had obtained by means of a few 
begged pence, the same was 1 plotting for by many a [oilsome turn- 
ing and winding; the joy of a temporary felicity. For he verily had 
not the true joy; but yet 1 with those my ambitious designs was seek- 
ing one much less true. And certainly he was joyous, 1 anxious; he 
void of care, I full of fears. But should any ask me, had I rather 
be merry or fearful? I would answer, merry. Again, if he asked 
had I rather be such as he was, or what 1 then was? I should choose 
to be myself, though \^'orn with cares and fears; but out of wrong 
judgment^ for, was it the tiuih? For 1 ought not to prefer myself 
to him, because more learned than he, seeing 1 had no joy therein, 
but sought 10 please men by it; and that not to instruct, but simply 
to please. Wherefore also Thou didst break my bones with the staff 
of Thy correction. 

Away with ihose then from my soul who say lo Her, *'It makes a 
difference whence a man's joy is. That beggar-man joyed in drunk- 
enness; Thou desiredst to joy in glory," What gWy, Lord? That 
which is not in Thee. For even as his was no true joy, so was that 
no true glory: and it overthrew my soul more. He that very night 
should digest his drunkenness; but I had slepc and risen again with 
mine, and was to sleep again, and again to rise with it, how many 
days. Thou, God, knowcst. But "it doth make a difference :vhence 
a man's joy is." I know it, and the joy of a faithful hope lieth incom- 
parably beyond such vanity. Yea, and so was he then beyond me: 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE §7 

for he verily was ihe hnppier; not only £or Lhat he was thoroughly 
drenched in mirth, I disembowelled with cares: but he^ by fair 
wishes, had gotten wine^ 1, by lying, was seeking for empiy, swelling 
praise. Much to this purpusc said I then to my friends: and 1 often 
marked in them how it fared with mc; and 1 found it went ill with 
me, and gtiev^dj and doubled that very ill; and if any prosperity 
smiled on me, 1 was loth to catch at it, for almost before I could grasp 
ir, it flew away. 

These things ^ve, who are living as friends together, bemoaned 
together, but thicfly and most familiarly did I speak thereof with 
Alypius and Nebridius, of whom Alypius was born in the same 
town with me, o£ persons of chief rank tlierci, buc younger than I. 
For he had siudied under me, both when 1 first lectured in our town, 
and afterwards at Carthage, and he loved me much, because I 
seemed to him kind, and learned; and 1 him, for his great roward- 
liness to virtuCj which was eminent enough in one of no greater 
years. Yet the whirlpool of Carthaginian habits (amongst whom 
those idle spectacles arc holly followed) had drawn him into the 
madness of the Circus. But while he was miserably tossed therein, 
and I, professing rhetoric there, had a public school, as yet he used 
not my teaching, by reason of some unkindness risen betwixt his 
father and me. 1 had found theji how deadly he doled upon the 
Circus, and was deeply grieved that he seemed likely, nay, or had 
thrown away so great promise: yet had 1 no means of advising or 
with a sort of constraint reclaiming him, eitlicr by the kindness of 
a friend, or the authority of a master, I-'or I supposed that he thought 
of me as did his father; but he was not such; laying aside dien his 
father's mind in that matter, he began to greet me, come sometimes 
into my lecture-room, hear a little, and be gone. 

1 however had forgotten to deal with him, that he should not 
through a blind and headlong desire of vain pastimes, undo so good 
a wit. But Thou, O Lord, who guidest the course of all Thoj hast 
created, hadst not forgotten him, who was one day to be among Thy 
children, Priest and Dispenser of Thy Sacrament; and that his 
amendment might plainly be attributed to Thyself, Thou effectedst 
it through me, but unknowingly. For as one day I sat in my accus- 
tomed place, with my scholars before me, he enteredj greeted me, 



L 



88, THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

saL down, and applied his mind to what I then bandied. T had by 
chance a passage in hand, which while I was ejiplaining, a likeness 
from the Circensian races occurred to me, as likely lo make what I 
would convey pleasanter and plainer^ seasoned with hidng mockery 
of those whom that madness had enthralled; God» Thou knowest 
that I then thought not of curing Alypius of that i[ifection. But he 
took it wholly to himself, and thought that I said it simply for his 
sake. And whence another would have taken occasion o£ oflcncc 
with me» that right-minded youth cook as a ground of being offended 
at himself, and loving me more fervently. For Thou hadst said it 
long ago, and put it into Thy book, Rehul^e a ti/iis man and hi: 
will lovs theef But 1 had not rebuked himi but Thou, who em- 
ployest all, knowing or not knowing, in that order which Thyself 
knowest (and that order is just), didsl of my heart and tongue make 
burning coals, by which to set on fire the hopeful mind, thus lan- 
guishing, and so cure it. Let him bo silent in Thy praises, who con- 
siders not Thy mercies, which confess unto Thee out of my inmost 
soul. For he upon that speech burst out of that pit so deep, wherein 
he was wilfully plunged, and was blinded with its wretched pas- 
times; and he shook his mind with a strong self-command; where- 
upon all the filtlis of the Circensian pastimes flew off from him, nor 
came he again thither. Upon this, he prevailed with his unwilling 
father that he might he my scholar. He gave way, and gave in. And 
Alypins beginning to be my hearer again, was involved in the same 
superstition with me, loving in the Manichces that show of conti- 
nency which he supposed true and unfeigned. Whereas it was a 
senseless and seducing continency, ensnaring precious souls* unable 
as yet to reach the depth of virtue, yet readily beguiled with the 
surface of what was but a shadowy and counterfeit virtue. 

He, not forsaking that secular coarse which his parents had 
charmed him to pursue, had gone before me to Romej to study law, 
and there he was carried away incredibly with an incredible eager- 
ness after the shows of gladiators. For being utterly averse to and 
detesting such spectacles, he was one day by chance met by divers of 
his acquaintance and fellow-students coming from dinner, and they 
with a familiar violence haled him, vehemently refusing and resisi- 

*Prov. ix. 3. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 89 

ing, into the Amphitheatre, during these cruel and deadly shows^ he 
thus prolcsting: ''Though you hale my body :o that place, and [here 
iet mej can you force me also to turn my mind or my eyes lo those 
shows? I shall then be absent while present, and so shall overcome 
boEh you and them," They hearing this, led him on nevertheless, 
desirous perchance to try that very thing, whether he could do as 
he said. When they were come ihither, and ha^d taken their places 
as they could, the whole place kindled wiih that savage pastime. 
But he, closing the passages of his eyes, forbade his mind to range 
abroad after such evils; and would he had stopped his ears also! 
For in the fight, when one fell, a migliLy cry oE the whole people 
striking him strongly, overcome by curiosity, and as if prepared to 
despise and be superior to it whatsoever it were, even when seen» 
he opened his eyes, and was stricken with a deeper wound in his 
soul ihan the other, whom he desired to behold, was in his body; 
and he fell more miserably ihan he upon whose fall that m.ighty 
noise was raised, which entered through his cars, and unlocked his 
eyes, to make way for the striking and beating down of a soul, bold 
rather than resolute, and the weaker, in thaE k had presumed on 
itself, which ought to have relied on Thee, For so soon as he saw 
that blood, he therewith drunk down savagencss; nor turned away, 
but fixed his eye, drinking in frenzy, unawares^ and was delighted 
with that guilty fight, and intoxicated with the bloody pastime. Nor 
was he now the man he came, but one of the throng he came unto, 
yea, a true associate of theirs th,it brought him thither. Why say 
more? He beheld, shouted, kindled, carried thence with him the 
madness which should goad him to return not only with them who 
Erst drew him thither, but also before them, yea and to draw in 
others. Yet thence didst Thou with a most strong and most merciful 
hand pluck him, and taughtest him to have confidence not in himself, 
but in Thee. But this was after. 

But this was already being laid up in his memory to be a medicine 
hereafter. So was that also, that when he was yet studying under 
me at Carthage, and was thinking over at mid-day in the market- 
place what he was to say by heart (as scholars use to practise), Thou 
sufferedst him to be apprehended by the officers of the market-plao 
for a thief. For no other cause, I deem, didst Thou, our God, suffer 



90 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE 

it but that he who v.'^s hcrcafrer to prove so great a man, should 
already begin to learn ihm in )i.idging of cai.ises> initii was not reiidily 
to be condemned by mirn oul o£ a r;tsh creduhiy. For as he was 
walking up an^l down by himself before the juclgfiieni-scat^ with his 
note-book and pen, lo, a young man, a lawyer, the real thief* piivily 
bringing a hatchet, got in, iinpercewed by Alypius, as far as the 
Jeaden gratings wliich fence in the silversmith 5* shops, and began 
to cut away the lead. But the noise o£ the hatcheE being heard, the 
silversmiths beneiuh began to make a siir, antl sent to apprehend 
whomever thi:y should find. But he hearing their voices, ran away, 
leaving his hatchet, fearing to be taken with it. Alypius now, who 
had not seen him enter, was aware of his going, and saw with what 
speed he made away. And being desirous to know the matLer, en- 
leted the place; where finding the hatchet, ho was standing, wonder- 
ing and considering it, when behold, those that had been sent, find 
him alone with the hatchet in his hand, the noise whereof had 
starded and brought ihein thither. They seize him, hale him away, 
and gathering the dwellers in the market-place together, boast of 
having taken a notorious thief, and so he was being led a^vay to be 
taken before the judge. 

But rhus far was Alypius to be instructed. For forthwith, O Lord, 
Thou siiccouredst his innocency, whereof Thou alone wert witness. 
For as he was being led cuher to prison or to punishment, a certaia 
architect met ihem, wlio had (he chief charge of llie public build- 
ings. Glad they were lo meet him especially, by whom they were 
wont to be suspected of stealing the goods lost out of the market- 
place, as tliough to sho^v him at last by whom these thefts were 
commiEted. He, however, had divers times seen Alypius at a certain 
senator's hou^e, to whom he often went to pay his respects; and 
recognising him immcdiaLely, took him aside by the hand, and en- 
quiring the occasion of so great a calamity, heard the whole matier, 
and bade all present, amid much uproar and threats, to go with him. 
So they came to the house of the young man who had done the deed. 
Tliere, before the door, was a boy so young as to be likely, not appre- 
hending any harm to his master, to disclose the whole. For he liad 
attended his master to the market-place. Whom so soon as Alypius 
remembered, he told the architect: and he showing the hatchet to 



riii>..- 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE 9I 

die boy, asked hitn "Whose that was?" *'Oiirs," quoih he presently: 
and being further questioned^ he discovered every thing. Thus the 
crime being ti.insferred ru that house, :ind ihe multitude ashamed, 
which had begun to insult over Alypius, he who was to be a dis- 
penser of Thy Word, and an examiner o£ many causes in Thy 
Church, went away better experienced and insLrucied. 

Him [hen 1 hit! found at Kome, and he clave to me by a most 
strong tie, and went with me to Milan, boili that be jnight not leave 
me, and might practise somediing of the law he had studied, more 
to please his parents than himself. There he had thrice sat as Asses- 
sor, wicli an uncorrupmess much wondered at by others, he won- 
dering at otheis rather who could prefer gold to honesty. His charac- 
ter was tried beshdes, not only with the bait of covetousness, but with 
the goad of fear. At Rome he was Assessor to die count of the 
Italian Treasury. There was at that time a very powerful senator, 
to whose favours many stood indebted, many much feared. He 
would needs, by his usual power, have a thing allowed him which 
by die laws was unallowed. Alypius resisted ii^ a bribe was prom- 
ised; with all his heart he scorned it: threats were held out; he 
trampled upon them: all wondering at so unwonted a spirit, which 
neither desired the friendship, nor feared the enmity of one so great 
and so mightily renowned for innumerable means of doing good or 
evil. And the very fudge, whose councillor Alypius was, although 
also unwilling it should be, yet did not openly refuse, but put the 
matter off upon Alypius, alleging that he would not allow him to 
doit; for in truth had the Judge done it, Alypius would have decided 
oUierwise. With this one thing in the way of learning was he well- 
nigh seduced, that he might have books copied for him at Pr.^torian 
prices, but consulting justice, he altered his deliberation for Lhe bel- 
ter; esteeming equity whereby he was hindered more gainful than 
the power whereby he were allowed. These are slight things, b^i: he 
that is fail/ifui in titih, /> faithful ulso in muchj Nor can that any 
how be void, which proceeded out of the mouth of Thy Truth: If 
ye have not been faithful in ike unrighteous Mammon, who will 
commit to your trust true riches? A?id if ye hauc not been faithful 
in that which is another man's, who shall ^ve you that tvhich is yottr 

'Luke JLvi. jg. 



92 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTI?^ 

oii'ii?^ He being such, did ai that time cleave to me, and with me 
wavered in purpose, what course of life was to be taken. 

Nebridius also, who having kft his n^iiive country near Carthage, 
yea and Carthage itself, wliere he had much lived, leaving hrs excel- 
lent famiiy-estaie and house, and a mother behind, who was not to 
follow him, had come to Milan, for no other reason but that with 
me he might live in a most ardent search after truth and wisdom. 
Like me he sighed, like me he wavered^ an ardent searcher after 
true life^ and a most acute examiner of [he most ditlicult questions. 
Thus were there the mouihs of three indigent persons, sighing out 
their wants one to another, and waiting upon Thes that Thou rnighi- 
eit give them their meat in dsts ^eason.^ And in all the bitterness 
which hy Thy mercy followed our worldly afTaiis, as we looked 
towards the end, why we should suffer all this, darkness met us; and 
we turned away groaning, and saying, How long shall t/iese things 
he? This too wc often said; and so saying forsook them not, for as 
yet there dawned nothing certain, which, these forsaken, we might 
embrace. 

And 1, viewing and reviewing things, most wondered at the length 
of lime from thai my nineteenth year, wherein 1 had begun to kindfe 
ivith the desire of wisdom, settling when I had found her, to aban- 
don all [he empty hopes and lying frcnares of vain desires. And lo, 
I was now in my thirtieth year, sticking in the same mire, greedy 
of enjoying things present^ which passed away and wasied my soul; 
while I said to myself, "Tomorrow I shall find It; it will appear 
manifesdy^ and T shall gfasp it; Fausrus the Manichee will come, and 
clear every thing! O you great men, ye Academicians, it is true then, 
that no certainty can be attained for the ordering of Ufel Nay, let us 
search tlie more diligently, and despair not. Lo, things in the ecclesi- 
astical books are not absurd to us now, which sometimes seemed 
absurd, and may be otherwise laken^ and in a good sen^se. I will lake 
my stand, where, as a child, my parents placed me, until the dear 
truth be found out. But where shall it be sought or when? Am- 
brose has no leisure; we have no leisure to read; where shall we find 
even the books? Whence, or when procure them? from whom bor- 
row them? Let set times be appointed, and certain hours be oideied 

*Luke Jivi. Ji, 12. ^?s. dlv. 15 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE ^J 

for tl:Le health of our soul. Great hope has dawned; the Catholic 
Faiih teaches not what wq thought, and Viiinly accused il of; her in- 
structed members hold it profane to believe God to be bounded by 
the figure of a human body: and do we doubt to 'knocks' [hat the 
rest 'niiiy be opened'? The forenoons our scholars take up; what da 
we during the rest? Why not this? But when then pay we court to 
our great friends, whose favour we need? When compose what we 
may sell to scholars? When refresh ourselves, unbending our miads 
from this intenseness of care?" 

*'Perish every thing, dismiss we diese empty vaniiicST and betake 
ourselves to [he one search for truth! Life is vain, death uncertain; if 
it steals upon us on a sudden, in what state shall we dep^irt hence? 
and where shall we learn what here we have neglec[cd? and shall 
we not rather suffer the punishment of this negligence? What, if 
death itself cut oil and end all care and feeling? Then must diis be 
ascertained. But God forbid this! It is no vain and empty thhig^ 
that the excellent dignity of the authority of the Christian Faith hath 
overspread the whole world. Never would such and so great things 
be by God ivrought for us, if with the death of the body the life of 
the soul came to an end. Wherefore delay [hen to abandon worldly 
hopes, and give ourselves ^vhoHy to seek after God and the blessed 
life? But wait! Even those things are pleasant; they have some, 
and no small sweetness. We must not lightly abandon them, for it 
were a shame to return again to them. See, ic is no great matter now 
lo obtain some station, and then what should we more wish for ? We 
have store of powerful friends; if nothing else oiTer, and we be in 
much haste, at least a presidentship may be given us- and a wife 
with some money, that she increase not our charges; and tliis shall 
he the bound of desire. Many great men, and most worthy of imita- 
tion, have given themselves to the study of wisdom in dae state of 
marriage," 

While 1 went over these things, and these winds sliifted and drove 
my heart this way and that, time passed on, but I delayed to turn to 
the Lord; and from day to day deferred to live in Thee» and deferred 
not daily to die in myself. Loving a happy life, I feared ir in its own 
abode, and sought it, by fleeing from it. 1 thought I should be too 
miserable, unless folded in female arms; and of the medicine of Thy 



i 



94 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

mercy to cure that infirmity I ihoughc not, not having cried it. As 
for cominency, I supposed ii to be in our own povvcr (ihougL in 
myself 1 did not find thai power), being so foolish as not to know 
what is written, No^je can be continent unless Thou gii/e it,''" and 
that Thou wotildest give iu if with inward groanings I did knock at 
Thine ears^ and with a setded faith did c^st my t::ire on Thee. 

Alypius indeed kept me from marrying; alleging that so could 
we by no means with undistracred leisure live together in the love 
of wisdom, as \vc had long desired. For himself was even then 
most pure in this point, so that ir was wonderful; and ihac the more, 
since in the outset of his youth he had entered into that course, but 
had not sluck fast therein; rather had he felt remorse and revolting 
a: it, living chenceforrh until now mosc concinently. But 1 opposed 
him with the examples of those who as mained men had cherished 
wisdom, and served God at-ccpiahly, and retained their friends, jnd 
loved them f.iith fully. Of whose grearness of spirit I was far short; 
and bound with the disease of the flesh and its deadly sweetness, 
drew along my chain, dreading to he loused, and as if ray wound 
had been fretted, pur back his good persuasions, as it were the hand 
of one thai would unchain me. Moreover, by me did the serpent 
speak unlo Alypius himself, by my tongue weaving and laying in 
his p-ith pleasurable snares, wherein his virtuous and free feet might 
be entangled. 

For when he wondered lh:U 1, whom he esteemed not slightly, 
should stick so fast in the birdlime of that pleasure, as to protest 
(so oft as we discussed it) that 1 could never lead a single life; and 
urged in my defence when 1 saw him wonder, that there was great 
difference between his momentary and scarce-remembered knowl- 
edge of that life, which so he might easily despise, and my continued 
acquaintance whereto if but the honourable name of marriage were 
added, he ought not to wonder why I could noc contemn that course; 
he began also to desire [o be married; noL as overcome with desire 
of such pleasure, but out of curiosity. For he would fain know, he 
said, what that should be, without which my life, to him so pleasing, 
would to me seem not life but a punishment. For his mind, free 
from thac chain, was amazed ac my thraldom; and through that 

i*Wkd. vbL 3.— Vutjj. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 95 

amazement was going on 10 3 desire of irying it, thence to the trial 
itself, and ihenco perhaps to sink inio rhai bontfagp whereat he 
wondered, seeing he w^s willing to ma^e a covenant with death^ 
and he that loves dimmer, shall jail into it,'^ For ^vhatever honour 
there be in the ijliice of ^vcil-ordering a married life, and a family, 
moved us but slightly. Uut me for the most pare ihe habit of satis- 
fying an insatiable appetite lormcnicd, while it held mc captive; him, 
an admiring wonder was leading captive- So were we, uniil Thou. 
O Most High, noi Eorsjkmg our dust, com mi serai ing us miserable^ 
didst come to our help* by wondrous and secret ways. 

Continual eiTort was made to have me married. I wooed, I was 
promiiedj chiefly through my mother's pains, that so once married, 
the health-giving baptism might cleanse me, towards which she re- 
joiced that i was being daily fitted, and observed that her prayers, 
and Thy promisei, were being fulfilled in my faith. At which time 
verily, both ai my request and her own longing, with strong cries 
of heart she daily begged of Thee, that Thou wouldest by a vision dis- 
cover unto her something concerning my future marriage; Thou 
never wouldest. She saw indeed certain vain and fantastic thing?, 
such as the energy of the human spirit, busied thereon, brought to- 
gether; and these she told me of, not with that confidence she was 
wont, when Thou showedst her any thing, but slighting them. For 
she could, she said, through a certain feeling, which in words she 
could not express, discern beiwbtt Thy revelations, and the dreams 
of her own soul. Yet the matter was pressed on, and a maiden asked 
in miirriage, two ye;Lrs under the fit age; and as pleasing, was 
waited for. 

And many of us friends conferring about, and detesting the tur- 
bulent turmoils of human hfe, had debated and now almost re- 
solved on hving apart from business and the bustle of men; and this 
was 10 be thus obtained; we were to bring whatever we might sev- 
erally procure, and make one household of alt; so that through the 
iruth of our friendship norhmg should belong especially to any; but 
the whole thus derived from alh should as a whole belong to each, 
and all to all. We thoughi there might be some ten persons in this 
society; some of whom were very rich, especially Romanianus our 



L 



96 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

townsman, trom childhood a very familiar friend of mine, whom ihe 
grievous perpkxilies of his affairs had brought up to court; who was 
the most efirnest for this project; and therein was his voice of great 
weight, because his ample estate far exceeded any of the rest. We 
had silled also that two annual officers, as it were, should provide 
all things necessary, the rest being undisturbed. But when we began 
to consider whether the wives, which some of us already had, others 
hoped to have, would allow this, all that plan, which was being so 
well moulded, fell to pieces in our hands, \v3.s utterly dashed and 
cast aside. Thence wc betook us to sighs, and groans, and our steps to 
follow the broad and beaten ways of the world;'^ for many thoughts 
were in our heart, but Thy counsel standeth for ever}'' Out of which 
counsel Tliou didst deride ours, and preparedst Thine own; pur- 
posing to give us meat in due season, and to open Thy hand, and to 
fili our souii tvith htcssing}" 

Meanwhile my sins were being muUiplied, and my concubine 
being torn from my side as a hindrance to my marriage, my heart 
which clave unto her was torn and wounded and bleeding. And she 
returned to Afric, vowing unto Thee never lo know any other man, 
leaving with me my son by her. But unhappy I, who could not imi- 
tate a very woman, impatient of delay, inasmuch as not till after 
two years was I to obtain her 1 sought, noE being so much a lover of 
marriage as a slave 10 lust, procured another, though no wife, that 
so by the servitude o£ an enduring custom, the disease of my soul 
migbi be kept up and carried on in its vigour, or even augmented, 
into the dominion of marriage. Nor was that my wound cured, 
which had been made by the cutting away of the former, but after 
iniiammaiion and most acute pain, it mortified, and my pains became 
less acute, but more desperate. 

To TTiee be praise, glory to Thee, Fountain of mercies. ! was 
becoming more miserable, and Thou nearer. Thy right hand was 
continually ready to pluck me out of the mire, and to wash me 
throughly, and I knew it not; nor did any thing call me back from a 
yet deeper gulf of carnal pleasures, but the fear of death, and of Thy 
judgment to come; which amid all my changes, never departed from 
my breast. And in my disputes with my friends Alypius and Neb- 

'^MstL VJJ, 13. '*P5, XSKIli. II. '^Ps. cilv. iSi 16. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 97 

ridius of the nature of good 3nd evi]» I h<?Ed that Epicurus had in my 
mind won the paim^ had I not believed that atter death there re- 
mained a life for the soul» and places of requital according to men's 
deserts, which Epicurus would not believe. And 1 asked* "were we 
immorEal» and 10 live in perpetual bodily plea^Lires, without fear of 
losing it, why should we not be happy, or what else should we seek?" 
not knowing that grea: misery was involved in this very thing, that, 
being thus sunk and blinded^ I could not discern that light o£ e:icd- 
lence and beauty, to be embraced £or its own sake, which ihe eye of 
flesh cannoL see. and is seen by the inner man. Nor did 1, unhappy, 
consider from what source it sprung* that even on these thing:?, foul 
as they were, 1 with pleasure discoursed with my triends, nor could 1* 
even according to the notions I then h:id o£ happiness, be happy 
withoift friends, amid what abundance soever of carnal pleasures. 
And yet these friends I loved for themselves only, and I felt that 1 
was beloved of them again for myself only. 

O crooked paths! Woe to the audacious soul, which hoped, by for- 
saking Thee, to gain some better thing! Turned it halh, and turned 
again* upon back, sides, and belly* yet all was painful; and Thou 
alone rest. And behold* Thou art at hand, and deliveierit us from. 
our wretched wandeiiiigs* and placest us in Thy way, and dost com- 
fort QS, and say, "Run; I will carry you; yea I will bring you 
through; there also will I carry you," 



L 



THE SEVENTH BOOK 

Au^^isiinc^s ihiny-Rr^i year; graduaUy extricated from his errors, but 
still with material conceptions ot God; much aided by an aEgumenl 
of Ncbiidlui; se<!a that die cause of sin lies in free-wilt, rejects the 
iXfariichjcan hereby, but c;iii nnt aliogifiher embrace ibe docirme ot 
the CbuTch; recovered from the belief in Astrology^ but miserably 
perplexed about the origin of [?vi]; is led to find in the Platoniits lite 
seeds of the docirine of the Divinity of the Word, but not of His 
humiliation; hence lie obtains clearer notions of God's majesEy, but, 
not knowing Chrc^t to be the Mediator^ remains csiranged from 
Him; all his doubts removed by the study of Holy Scripture, espe- 
cially St- Paul. 

DECEASED was now tha: my evil and abominable youth, 
and 1 was passing inro early manhood; the more defiled 
by vain diings as 1 grew in years, who coukl not imagine 
any substance, but such as is wont to be seen with these eyes. I 
thought not of Thee, O God, under the figure of a human body; 
sinte I began to hear aught of wisdom, 1 always avoided this; and 
rejoiced to have fouud ihe same in the faith of our spiritual modier. 
Thy Catholic Church. liut what else to conceive Thee I knew not. 
And I, a man, and such a mda, sought to conceive of Thee the sov- 
ereign^ only, irne God; and 1 did in my inmost soul believe that 
Thoti were incorruptibli?, and uninjurable, and unchangeable; be- 
cause lliough not knowing whence or how, yet I saw plainly, and 
was sure, that that which may be corrupted must be inferior to that 
which cannot; what could not be injured I preferred unhesitatingly 
to what could receive injury^ the unchangeable to things subject lo 
change. My heart passionately cried out against all my phantoms, 
and with this one blow 1 sought to beat away from the eye of my 
mind all that unclean troop which buzzed around it. And lo, being 
scarce put oil, in the twinkling of an eye they gathered again thick 
about me, flew against my face, and beclouded it; so that though 
not under the form of the hum;ui body, yet wa^ I constrained to con- 
ceive of Thee (chat incorruptible, unuijurablc, and unchangeable, 

9B 



THE CONFHSSIOMS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 99 

which I preferred before the corruptible, and injurable, nnd change- 
able) as beJn^ in sp.ice, whether infused inio the world, or dilTused 
infinitely wiihoui it. Because whatsoever I conceived, deprived of 
Lhis space, seemed 10 me nothing, yea altogether nothing, not even a 
void, as it a body were taken out of its place, and the place should 
remain empty of any body at all, of earth and water, air and heaven, 
yet would it remain a void place, as it were a spacious nothing. 

I then being thus gross-hearted, nor dear even to myself, what- 
soever was not extended over ccrtJJn spaces, nor diffused, nor con- 
densed, nor sivelled out, or did not or could nift receive some of 
these dimensions, I thought to be altogether nothing. For over such 
forms as my eyes are wont to range, did my heart then range: nor 
yet did 1 see that this lame notion of the mind, whereby I formed 
diosc very images, was not ot this sort, and yet k could not have 
formed them, had not itself been some great thing. So also did T 
endeavour to conceive of Thee, Life of my life, as vasf, through in- 
finite spaces on every side penetrating the whole mass of the uni- 
verse, and beyond it, every way, through unmeasurable boundless 
spaces; so that the earth should have I'hee, the heaven have Thee, 
ail things have Thee, and they be bounded in Thee, and Thou 
bounded nowhere. For ih-^t as the body of tliis air which is above 
the earth, hindereth not the light of the sun from passing through 
it, penetrating it, not by bursting or by cutting, but by filhng it 
wholly; so I thought the body not of heaven, air, and sea only, but 
of die earth too, previous to Thee, so that in all its parts, the greatest 
as the smallest, U should admit Thy presence, by a secret inspiration 
within and without, directing all things which Thou hast created. 
So i guessed, only as unable to conceive aught else, for it was false. 
For ihus should a greater part of the earth contain a greater portion 
of Thee, and a less, a lesser: and all things should in such sort be 
full of Thee, that the body of an elephant should contain more of 
Thee than that of a sparrow, by how much larger it is and takes up 
more room; and thus shouldest Thou make the several portions of 
Thyself present unto the several portions of the world, in fragments, 
large to the large, petty to the petty. But such are not Thou. But 
not as yet hadst Thou enlightened my darkness. 

It was enough for me> Lord, to oppose to those deceived deceivers, 



100 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST- AUGUSTINE 

and dumb praters, since Thy word sounded noc om of them; — 
ihat was enough which long ago» while we were yei at Carthage^ 
Nebridius used to propound, ai whicli all we chat heard it wore 
staggered: "That said naiion of darkness, which ihe Mjnichees nre 
wont to set as an opposing mass over against Thee, what could it 
have done unto Thee, hadsC Thou refused to fight with it? Foi, if 
they answered, 'it would have done Thee some hurt,* then shouldest 
Thou be subject to injury and corruption: but if 'it could do Thee no 
hurt,' then was no reason brought for Tliy lighting with it; and fight- 
ing in such wise, as that a certain portion or member of Thee, or 
offspring of Thy very Substance, should be mingled with opposed 
powers, and natures not created by 1 hce, and be by them so far cor- 
rupted and changed to the worse, as to be turned from happiness 
into misery, and need assistance, whereby it might be extricated and 
purified; and that this ofTspring of Thy Substance was ihe soul, 
which being enthralled, defiled, corrupted, Thy Word free, pure and 
whole might relieve; d^Jt Word itself bfing still corruptible because 
it was o£ one and the same Substance. So then, should d^ey adirm 
Thee, whatsoever Thou art, that is. Thy Substance whereby Thou 
art, to be incorruptible, then were all these sayings false and exe- 
crable; but if corruptible, the very statement showed it to be false 
and revoking.'* This argument then of Nebridius sufficed against 
those who deserved wholly w be vomited out of the overcharged 
stomach; for they had no escape* without horrible blasphemy of heart 
and tongue, thus thinking and speaking of Thee. 

But I also as yet, although 1 held and was firmly persuaded that 
Thou our Lord the true God, who madest not only our souls, but our 
bodies, and not only our souls and bodies, but all beings, and all 
things wert tindefilable and unalterable, and in no degree mutable; 
yet understood I not, clearly and without difficulty, the cause of evil. 
And yet whatever it were, I perceived it was in such wise to be 
sought out, as should not constrain me to believe the immutable God 
to be mutable, lest I should become that evil 1 was seeking out. 1 
sought it out then, thus far free from anxiety, certain of the untruth 
of what these held, from whom I shrunk with my whole heart; for 
I saw, that through enquiring the origin of evil, they were filled with 



THE CONFESSTONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE lOI 

evil, in Lhat they preferred to think ttai Thy subscaiice did suffer 
ill than their own did commit it. 

And I strained to perceive what I now heard, that freewill \vai 
the cause of out doing ill, and Thy just judgment of our suffering ill. 
But I was not able clearly to discern it- So then endeavouring to 
draw my soul's vision out of that deep pif, I was again plunged 
therein, and endeavouring often, 1 was plunged back as often- But 
this raised me a lude into Thy light, that I knew as well that I had 
a will, as thjt 1 lived; when then I did will or nill any thing, 1 was 
most sure that no ocher than myself did will and nil!: and I all but 
saw that there was the cause of my sin. liut what I did against my 
will, 1 saw that I suiTered father [han did, and 1 judged not to be my 
faultj but my punishment; whereby however, holding Thee to be 
just, 1 speedily confessed myself to be not unjusdy punished. But 
again I said, Who made me? Did not my God, who rs not only 
good, but goodness itself? Whence then came I to will evil and niil 
good, so that I am thus justly punished? who set this in me, and 
ingrafted into me this plant of bitterness, seeing 1 was wholly formed 
by my most sweet God? If the devil were tlie author, whence is that 
same devil? And if he also by his own perverse will, of a good angel 
became a devil, whence, again, came in him that evil will whereby he 
became a devil, seeing the whole nature of angels was made by that 
most good Creaior ? By these thoughts 1 was again sunk down and 
choked; yet not brought down to that hell of error (where no man 
confesscih unto Thee), Co think rather that Thou dost suffer ill, 
than [hat man doth it.' 

For I was in such wise striving to find out the rest, as one who had 
already found that the incorruptible must needs be better than the 
corruptible: and Thee therefore, whatsoever Thou wert, I con- 
fessed ED be incorruptible. For never soul was, nor shall be able to 
conceive any thing which may be better than Thou, who art the 
sovereign and the best good. But since most truly and certainly, the 
incorruptible is preferable to the corruptible (as 1 did now prefer it), 
then, wert Thou not incorruptible, I could in thought have arrived 
ac something better than my God Where then I saw the incor- 

'Pb- vI. 5' 



102 TEIE CONfESSiONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE 

ruptible to be prefcnbfE to the corruptible, there ought T to seek for 
Thee, and diere observe "wherein ovi! itself w:is;" that is whence 
corruption comes, by which Thy substance can by no means be im- 
paired. For corrnplion does no wnys impair our God; by no wil^, by 
no necessity, by no unlooked-for chance: because He is God, and 
what He wills is good, ,ind Himself is ihjt good; but to be corrupted 
is not good. Nor art Thou against Thy will conscrained to any thing, 
since Thy will is not greater than Thy power. But greater should it 
be, were Thyself greater than Thyself. For the will and power of 
God is God Himself. And what can be unlooked for by Thee, who 
knowest all things? Nor is there any nature la things, but Thou 
knowest il. And what should we more say, "why that substance 
which God is should not be corruptible," seeing i£ it were so, it 
should not be God? 

And I sought "whence is evil," and sought in an evil way; and 
saw not the evil in my very search. I set now before the sight of my 
spirit ilie whole creation, whatsoever we can see therein (as sea, 
earth, air, stars, trees, mortal creatures) ; yea, and whatever in it we 
do not see, as the firmament of heaven, all ansjjcls moreover, and all 
the spiritual inhabitants thereof. But these very beings, as though 
they were bodies, did my fancy dispose in place, and I made one great 
mass of Thy creation, distinguished as to the kinds of bodies; some, 
real bodies, some, what myself had feigned for spirits. And this mass 
1 made huge, not as it was (which I could not know), but as I 
thought convement, yet every way finite. But Thee, O Lord, I 
imagined on every part environing and penetrating it, though every 
way infinite: as if there were a sea, every where, and on every side, 
through unmeasured space, one only boundless sea, and it contained 
within it some sponge, huge, but bounded; that sponge must needs, 
in all its parts, be filled from that unmeasurable sea: so conceived I 
Thy creation, itself finite, full of Thee, the Infinite; and I said, Be- 
hold God, and behold what God hath created; and God is good, yea, 
most mightily and incomparably better than all these: but yet He. the 
Good, created them good; and see how He environeth and fulfils 
ihem. Where is evil then, and whence, and how crept it in hither? 
What is its root, and what its seed? Or hath it no being? Why then 
fear we and avoid what is not? Or if we fear it idly, then is that 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 103 

very fear evil, whereby the soul is thus idly goaded and racked. Yea, 
and so much a greater evil, as we hjve noihing ed fear, and yer do 
fear. Therefore either is that evil wiiich we fear, or else evil is, that 
we fear. Whence is it (lien? seeing God, the Good, harh created all 
these things good. He indeed, the greater and chietest Good, hath 
created thepie lesser goods; still btith Creator and created, all arc good. 
Whence is evilP Or, was there some evil matEcr of which He made, 
and formed, and ordered it, yet left something in it which He did 
nor convert into good P Why so then ? Hiid He no right t(j turn and 
change the whole, so that no evil should remain in it, seeing He is 
Almighty? Lastly, why should He make any thing at all of it, and 
not rather by the same All-mightiness cause it not to be at all? Or, 
could ic then be against His will? Or if it were from eternity, why 
sulfered He it so to be for infinite spaces of times past, and was 
pleased so long after to mahe something out of it? Or if He were 
suddenly pleased now to ellect somewhat, ihis rather should the Alf- 
mighty have ejected, that this evil matrer should not be, and He 
alone be, the whole, true, sovereign, and infinite Good. Or if it was 
not good that He who was good should not also frame and create 
something that were good, then, that evil matter being taken away 
and brought to nothing. He might form guod matter, whereof to 
create all things. For He should not be All-mighty, if He might not 
create something good without the aid of that matter which Himself 
had not created. These thoughts I revolved in my miserable heart, 
overcharged with most gnawing cares, lest I should die ere 1 had 
found the truth; yet was the faith of Thy Christ, our Lord and 
Saviour, professed in the Church Catholic, firmly fixed in my earth, 
in many points, indeed, as yet unformed, and fluctuating from the 
rule of doctrine; yet did not my mind utterly leave it, but rather 
daily look in more and more o£ it. 

By this time also had I rejected the lying divinations and impfous 
dotages of the astrologers. Let Thine own mercies, out of my very 
inmost soul, confess unto Thee for this also, O my God.' For Thou, 
Thou altogether (for who else calls us back from the death of all 
errorS) save [he Life which cannot die, and the Wisdom which need- 
ing no li^ht enlightens the minds diat need it^ whereby the universe 



T04 TliE COKFESSTOKS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

li directed^ down to the whirling leaves o£ trees?), — -Thou modest 
provision for my obstinacy wherewtih 1 struggled against Vindid- 
anus,^ an acute old man, and Nebridius, a young man of admirable 
talents; the first vehemently affirming, and ihe lytter often (ihough 
with 5(jme doublfuhiess) saying, *'ThaE there was no such art whereby 
to foresee things to tome, but that men's conjectures were a sort of 
lotieryj and that out of many things which they said should come 
to pass, some actually did, unawarei to ihem who spake it, who 
stumbled upon it, through their oft speaking." Thou providest 
then a friend for me, no negligent consuher of the astrologers; nor 
yet well skitled in those arts, hut (as I said) a curious consulier 
with them, and yet knowing something* which he said he had heard 
of his father, which how far it went to overthrow the estimation of 
that an, he knew not. This man then* Firminus hy name, having 
had a liberal education, and well taught in Rhetoric, consulted me, 
as one very dear to him, what, according to his so-called constella- 
tions, 1 thought on certain affairs of his, wherein his worldly hopes 
had risen, and I, who had herein now begun to inchne towards 
Nebridius' opinion, did not altogether refuse to conjecture, and tell 
him what came into my unresolved mind: but added, that I was 
now almost persuaded that these were but empty and ridiculous 
follies. Thereupon he told me that his father had been very curious 
in such books, and had a friend as earnest in them as himself, who 
with joint study and conference fanned the flame of their affections 
to these toys, so that they would observe the moments whereat the 
very dumb animals, which bred about their houses, gave birth, and 
then observed the relative position of the heavens, thereby to make 
fresh experiments in this so-called art. He said then that he had 
heard of his father, that what lime his mother was about lo give 
birth to him, Firminus, a womim-servant of that friend of his father's 
was also with child, which could not escape her master, who rook 
care with most exact diligence to know the births of his very pup- 
pies. And so it was that (the one for his wife, and the odier for 
his servant, with the most careful observation, reckoning days, hours, 
nay, the lesser divisions of the hours) both were delivered at the 
same instant; so that both were constrained to allow the same con- 

JScf BoaklV,. p, 5D. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE IO5 

steilatrons* even [o the minuiest points, the one for his son, ihe other 
for his new-born slave- For so soon as j;hc women began to be in 
labour, ihey cath gave notice to the other what was fallen out in 
their houses, and had messengers ready to send to one another so 
soon as they had notice of the actual birth, of which ihey had 
easily provided, each in his own province, 10 give instant intelli- 
gence. Thiis then the messengers of the respective pjirfies met, he 
averred, at such an cqua^ distance from either house^ that neither 
of them could make out any difference in the position of the stars, 
or any other minutest points; and yet Firminus, born in a high 
estace in his parents' house, ran his course ihrongh ihc gilded paths 
of life, was increased in riches, raised to honours; whereas that slave 
continued to serve his masters, without any relaxation of his yoke, 
3S Firminus, who knew him* told me- 

Upon hearing and believing these things, told by one of such credl- 
bihty, all that my resistance gave way; and first I endeavoured to 
reclaim Firminus himself from that curiosity, by telhng him thiit 
upon inspecting his constellations, I ought, i£ 1 were to predict truly, 
to have seen in them parents eminent among their neighbours, a 
noble family in its own ciiy, high birth, good education, liberal 
learning. Bui if that servant had consulted me upon the same con- 
stellations, since tliey were his also, 1 ought again (to tell him too 
truly) to see in Ehem a lineage the most abject, a slavish condition, 
and every thing else utterly at variance with the former. Whence 
then, if I spake the truth, 1 should, from the same constellations, 
speak diversely, or if I spake the same, speak falsely; thence it fol- 
lowed most certainly that whatever, upon consideration of the con- 
stellations, was i[Hjken truly, was spoken not out of art, but chance; 
and whatever spoken falsely, was not out of ignorance in the art, 
but the failure of the chance. 

An opening thus made, ruminating with myself on the like 
things, that no one of those dotards (who lived by such a trade, and 
whom I longed to attack, and with derision to confute) might urge 
against me thai Firminus had informed me falsely, or his father 
him; 1 bent my thoughts on those that arc born twins, who for the 
most part come out of the womb so near one to other, that the smnlt 
interval (how much force soever in the nature of things folk may 



I06 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

prerend it to have) cannot be noted by hiim^n obscrvjiion, or be ai 
iiH expressed in thoHC tigures which the asirologer is to inspea^ thai 
he may pronounce truly. Yet they cannot he true: for looking into 
the same figures, he must have predicted the same o£ Esau and 
Jacobs wherejs the same happened not to them. Therefore he mu&i 
apeak falsely; or if truly, lhen» looking into the Kime figures, he 
must not give the s^me answer. Not by art, then, but by chance, 
would he speak truly. For Thou* O Lord* most righteous Ruler of 
the Universe, while consukers and consulted know it not, dost by 
Thy hidden inspiration elTect that the consulter should hear what, 
according to [be hidden deservings of souls, he ought to bear, out o£ 
ihe unsearchable depth of Thy just judgment, to Whom let no man 
say, What is this? Why rbai? Let him not so say, for he is man. 

Now then, O my Helper, liadst ihou loosed me from those fetters: 
and 1 sought "whence is evil/' and found nn way. But thou sut- 
teredsi me not by any BuciLiations of thought to be carried away 
from the Faith whereby I believed Thee both to be, and Thy sub- 
SEance to be unchangeable, and that Thou hait a care of, and would- 
est judge men, and that in Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, and the 
holy Scriptures, which the authority of Thy Catholic Church 
pressed upon me, Thou hadst set the way of man's salvation, to that 
life which is to be after this death. These things being safe and im- 
movably settled in my mind, 1 sought anxiously *Vhence was evil?" 
What were the pangs of my teeming heart, what groans, O my 
Godl yet even there were Thine ears open, and I knew it not: 
and when in silence I vehemently sought* those silent contritions 
of my soul were strong cries unto Thy mercy. Thou knewesL what 
I suffered, and no man. For, what was i\\,\t which was thence 
through my tongue distilled into the ears of my most familiar 
friends? Did the whole tumult of my soul, for which neither time 
nor utterance* sutficed, reach them? Yet went up the whole to Thy 
hearing, all which 1 roared out from the groanings of my heart; and 
my desire was before Thee, and the light of mine eyes was not 
with me: for that was within, 1 without: nor was that coniined to 
place, but I was intent on things contained in place, but there found 
I no resifng-place, nor did they so receive me, thai 1 could say, "It 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE IO7 

is enough*" "it is weir': nor did tlicy yet suffer me to turn bact, 
where if might be well enough with me. For Co these things was I 
superior, but inferior lo Thee; and Thou arc my true joy when sub- 
jected to Thee, and Thou hadst subjected to me what Thou creiited.'it 
below me. And this was the true temperament, and middle region 
o£ my safety, to remain in Thy Image, and by serving Tliee, rule 
the body. But when i rose proudly against Thee, and ran against 
the Lord tiihh my nec/{, mth the t/iic^ bosses of niy hti^f^ler^ even 
these inferior things were sei above me, and pressed me down, and 
no where was there respite or space for breathing. Tlicy met my 
sight on all sides by heaps and troops, aj^d in diought the images 
thereof presented themselves imsought, as I would return to Thee, 
as if they would say unto me, "Whither goest thou, unworthy and 
defiled?'' And these things had grown out of my wound; for Thou 
"humblcdst the proud hke one that is wounded/'" and through my 
own swefling was J separated from Theei yea, my pride-swollen 
face closed up mine eyes. 

But Thou, Lord, abidest for eircr, yet not for ever art Thou 
angry with us; because Thou pitiesi our dust and ashes and it was 
pleasing in Thy sight to reform my deformities and by inward goads 
didst Thou rouse me, ihat 1 should be ill at ease, until Thou wert 
manifested fo my inward sight. Thus, by the secret band of Thy 
mcdicining was my swelling abated, and the troubled and bedimmed 
eye-sight of my mind^ by the smarting anointings o£ healthful sor- 
rows» was from day to day healed. 

And Thou, willing first to show me bow Thou resistest th^ 
proud, but gii'Sit grace ttnto the hiiruble^ and by how great an act 
of Thy Mercy Thou hadst traced out to men the way of humility, 
in that Thy Word was made flesh, and dwelt among men: — Thou 
procuredst for me» by means of one pu/Ied up with most unnatural 
pride, certain books of the Platonists, translated from Greek into 
I^tin. And therein 1 read, not indeed in the very words, but to the 
very same purpose, enforced by many and divers reasons, chat In the 
beginning was the Word, and the Word u/as ti/iih God, and the 
Word was Cod: the Same was in the beginning mlh Cod: all 
things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made: 
^ Job XV, 36, ^Ps. lAXXviii, n- — Vulg. ^Jjitl. iv. fii i Pcl^ v, 5, 



I08 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

ihat which was mude by Him is life, and ths life was the light of 
men, and the light shineth in the darl^ness, and the darkjiess com- 
prehended it iiot^ And Eh.ir the soul of man^ though it bears witness 
to the light, ye: itself is not that light; but the Word of Gotl, being 
God, is that true light that lighteih er^ery man that comcth into the 
aJorldj* And that He was in the world, and the world teas made by 
Hi?n, arrd the world /('jew Hun not.^'^ But ihai He came unto His 
ou/ti, and His own received him notf^ hut as many as received Him, 
to them gave He power la become the sons of God, as many as be- 
lieved in His name;^~ [his I read not ihere. 

Again I read there, th:iT God the Word was born not of flesh, nor 
of Mood, nor of the will of man, nor of the will of the flesh, but of 
God}^ But [bjt the Word was ?uadc flesh, and dwelt among us** I 
read noi there. For I traced iq those books ihat it was many and 
divers w-nys said^ that the Son was in the form of the Father, and 
thought it not robbery to be equal with God, for that naturally He 
was the S:ime Stibaiance, But thiU He emptied himself, taking the 
forjti of a servant, being made in the li\eness of men, and found in 
fashion as a man, humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, 
and that the death of the cross: wherefore God exalted Him from the 
de^d and gave Him a najise above every name, that iit the name of 
Jesus every l{nee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, 
end things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that 
the Lord fesus Christ is in the Glory of God the Father ;^^ tho^s hooks 
have not. For that before all times and above all times Thy Only- 
Begotten Son remaineth unchangeable, co-eietnal with Thee, and 
that of His fulness souls receiifc,"' that they tnay be blessed; and 
thai by participation of wisdom abiding in them, they ate renewed, 
so as to be wise, is there- But that in due time He died for the un- 
godly:^^ and that Thou sparedst not Thine Only Son, but deliperedst 
Him for us all,^^ is not there- For Thou hiddest these things from 
the wise, and revealedst them to babes; that they that labour and org 
heavy laden might come unto Him, and He refresh them, because 
He is mee^ and lowly in heart;^'* and the meelf He directcth in 
judgment, and the gentle He teacheth His ti/ays^ beholding our 

Mohni, i-^. ^th.^. "'lb. TO. "1/^. II. "f^*, 12. "/^. 13- "/i'. 1+ 

'^Phil. i\. C-ii- '^John J. 16. ^'Rom, v. G, ^^ lb. viii. 3a. 

"Malt, 3.1. 15, i8j Jg. ^Pi. kkv, 9. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE TO9 

loneliness and irotiHe, and forgiving all our sins.^' But such as are 
lifted up in die lofty wjlk of some wc^uld-be sublimcr lemming, hear 
Jiot Him, saying, Learn of Me, for I am ineek, i^nd lowly in heart, 
and ye shall find rest to your ioids.'^ Although they i^new God, yet 
rhey glorify Hi'n not as God. nor are thanf^fid, but wax fain in 
tiieir thoiighti; and their foolish heart is darkened; professing that 
they were wise, they hecaine fooU^ 

And therefore did I rcjid thero also, ihyi they had changed the 
glory of Thy incorruptible nature rnio \diih and divers ihape^, into 
the likeness of the image of corruptible inan, and birds, and beasts, 
and creeping things;'' namely, into chat Egyptian food for which 
Esau lost his birthright," for that Thy first-bum people worshipped 
tho head of a fuiir-fooled beast instead of Thee;'* turning in heart 
b^ck towards Egypt; and bowing Thy iniagc, their own ioul, be- 
fore the image of a calf that eateth hay}'^ These things found I here, 
but i fed not on them. For ft pleased Thee, O Lord, to take away 
the reproach of diminurion from J^cob, that the elder should seri/e 
iheyoungerr^ Tind Thou CniUedst the Gentiles into Thine inheritance. 
And 1 had come to Thee from among the Gentiles; and 1 set my 
mind upon the gold which Thou wiSled&t l"hy people to take from 
Eg)'pr, seeing Thine it was, wheresoever it were/' And to the 
Athenians Thou saidst by Thy Apostle, thai in Thee we hire, move, 
and hai/s our being, as one of their on-n poets had said^ And verily 
these books came from thence. Bui 1 set not my mind on the idols 
of Egypt, whom ihey served u/ith Thy goldf^ who changed the truth 
of God into a lie, and ivorsJiipped and served the creature ?nore 
tiian tiic Creator?^ 

And being thence admonished to return to myself, I entered even 
into my inward self, Thou being my Guide: and able 1 was, for 
Thou were become my Helper. And I entered and beheld with the 
eye o£ my soul (such as ii was), above the ssame eye of my soul, above 
my mind, the Light Unchangeable. Not this ordinary hght, which 
all flesh may look upon, nor as it were a greater of the same kind, 
as [hough the brightness of this should be manifold brighterj and 
with its greatness take up all space. Not such was this light, but 

=';*, iS. "Mact n'u 2g, ^Rom. i- ?i, ?3. ^* Rom. i. a^, " Ccn. nxv. 35, 34 

^Es. y.y.y\\. 1-6. "P&- c^i- 3n. ^Rom. iy:. 13- "Ek, iii. 21; \u 2, 

3<iAi:is xvii. 2S. ^iHoi. ii, S, "Rom. i. 25^ 



no THE CONFESSIONS OF ST- AUGUSTINE 

other, yea, far other £rom all these- Nor w^s i\ above my soul, as 
oil is above water, nor yet as heaven above carih: hue yhovc lo my 
soul, because It made me" and I below it* because 1 was made by 
it. He Lh:it knows the Truth, knows what that UgliL 15; and he that 
knows It. knows eterniiy. Love knoweth it. O Truth Who arc Eter- 
nity! and Love Who art Tmlhf :ind Eternity Who art Love! Thou 
art my Godj to Thee do 1 sigh night and day. Thee when I first 
knew^ Thou hftcdst me up* that I might see there was what ] might 
see, and that I was not yet such as to see. And Thou didst beat 
back the weakness of my sighr, streaming forrh Thy beams oE light 
upon me most strongly, and I iremhled with love and awe: and 1 
perceived myself to be £nr off from Thee^ in the region of unlike- 
nesSj as if I heard this Thy voice from on hi^h: *'l am the food of 
grown men; grow and thou shalt feed upujn Me; nor sshali ihou 
convert Me, like the food of thy flesh, into thee, but thou shak be 
converted in(o Me/' And 1 learned^ that T/iou for rniqiiiiy chai- 
Hf/ifst ifia}iy and Thoit niadest my ^oiil to conmine aii/ay fi^e a 
spidci-.^^ And 1 said* "Is Truth therefore noihing becau^ it is nor 
diffused through space finite or infinite?" And Thou criedst to me 
from afar: "Yea, verily, / AM that I AM."^ And I heard, as the 
heart heareihj nor had 1 room to doubt, and i should sooner doubt 
that 1 live than that Truth is not, nihich is cUarly seen, being undef- 
stood by those things which are made^'' 

And 1 beheld the other things below Thee, and T perceived that 
they neither altogether are, nor altogether are not, for the^ are, since 
they are from Thccj but are iiot. because they are not, ivhat Thou 
art. For that truly is which remains unchangeably. /; h good then 
jor me to hold fast ttnto God;^'* for if i remain not in Him, 1 
cannot in myself; but He remaining in Himself, rencweth all 
things?^ And Thou art the Lord my God since Thou siandest not 
in need of n^y goodness^ 

And it was manifested unto me, that those things be good which 
yet are corrupted; which neither were they sovereignly good, nor 
unless they were good could be corrupted: for if sovereignly good, 
they were incorruptible, if not good a: allj there were nothing in 

^^ Pi. x:i^i». 1 1. ^ E>:(Kf. lu. 14- ^ Ram. 1. 20. 

^ Pi. Isxiii. 23 37vviid. vii. jy. 33p^, >vi. i. 



THE CONFESSrONS OF ST. AUGUSTUS III 

them to be corrupted. For corruption injures, buf unless it dimin- 
ished goodness, il could not fnjiTEe. Either then cormpdon injures 
noCi which ciinnot He; or which is most certain, all which is cor- 
rupted is deprived of gcNjd. Bui if they be deprived of Lill good, they 
shjil cease to be. For if they shall he, and can now no longer be 
corrupted, they shall be better thitn before, because ihey shall abide 
incorrupt ibiy. And what mote monstrous than to affirm things to 
become better by losing all their good? Therefore* if they shall be 
deprived o£ all good, they ih^ill no longer be. So long therefore as 
they are, they are good; iheretore whatsoever is, is good. That evil 
then which i soughr* whence it is, is nor any substance: for were it 
a substance^ it should be good. For either it should be an incor- 
ruptible substance, and so a chief goodr or a corruptible substance^ 
which unless it were good, could not be corrupted. I perceived 
therefore, and it was manifested lo me that Thou madest all [hings 
good, nor is there any subiiance at all, which Thou madest not; and 
for that Thou madest not all things equal, therefore are all things; 
because each is good, and altogether very good, because our God 
tnatfi^ nil things very good?^ 

And to Thee is nothing wiiatsoever evil: yea, not only to Thee, 
but also to Thy creation as a vvhole, because [here is nothing w[d> 
out, which may break in, and corrupt that order which Thou hast 
appointed it. But in the parts thereof some things, because unhar' 
monising with other some, are accounted evil: whereas those very 
things harmonise with others, and are good; and in [hemselves are 
good. And all these things which harmonise not altogether, do yet 
:vJth the inferior part, which we call Earth, having its own cioudy 
and windy sky harmonising with it. Far be ir then that I should 
say, "These things should not be:" for should \ see nought but 
these, I should indeed long for the better; but still must even for 
these alone praise Thee; for that Thou art to be praised, do show 
ji-om the earth, dragons, and all dccpi, fire, hail, snoiii, ice, and 
stormy it^ind u/hich fulfil Thy word; mountains and all hills, jmit- 
jiil trees, and all cedars; beasts, and all cattle, creeping things, and 
flying jowls: k}ngs oj the eai^h, and all people, princes, arid alt 
judges of the eanh; young men and maidens, old men and yotitigj 

^Geiuta: Etcii. xxj<i3. 21. 



133 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

praise Thy Name. But when, from heaven^ these praise Thee, praise 
Thee, OUT God, in the heights, ell Thy angels, ail Thy hosts, sun 
and moon, ail the stars and light, the Heavet} of heauens, and the 
u'liiers that be above the heavens, praise Thy Name;*" I did not now 
long for things better bi^cause I conceived o£ all: nnd with a sounder 
judgment I ifpprehended ihat ihe things above were beuer than 
these below, but all together better than those above by themselves^ 

There is no soundness in them, whom aught of Thy creaLion dis- 
pleascth: ris neither In me, when much which Thou hast m.ide, dis- 
pleased me. And because my soul durst not be displeased at my 
God. it would fain not account that Thine> which displeased it. 
Hence it hiid gone into the opinion of two subsiynces, and had no 
rest, but [Ldked idly. And returning thence^ it had made to itself a 
God, through infinite measures of all space; and thought it to be 
Thecj and placed It In its heart; und had agnin become the temple 
of its own idol, to Thee abominable. But after Thou hadst soothed 
my head, unknown to me, and closed inine eyes that they should not 
behold t/antty*' I ceased somewhat of my former self» and my frenzy 
was lulled to sleep; and I awoke in Thee, and saw Thee infinite, but 
in another way, and this sight was not derived from the flesh. 

And I looked back on other things; and 1 saw that they owed 
ihefr being to Thee; and were all bounded in Thee: but in a differ' 
ent way; not as being in spjce; but hecauie Thou containest all 
things in Thine hand in Thy Truth; and all things are true so far 
as they be; nor is there any falsehood unless when that is thought to 
be, which is not. And I saw ihat all things did harmonise, not with 
their places only, but with their seaions. And that Thoti, who only 
art Esernal, did^t not begin to work after innumerable spaces of 
times spent; for that all spaces of times, both which have passed, and 
which shall pass, neither go nor come, but through Thee, working, 
and abiding. 

And 1 perceived and found it nothing strange^ that bread which 
is pleasant to a healthy palaie is loathsome to one distempered: and 
to sore eyes light Is offensive, which to the sound is delightful. And 
Thy righteousness displeaseth the wicked; much more tho viper and 
reptiles, which Thou hast created good, fitting in with the inferior 

"Ps. Mlvlii, 1-13. ^1 Pi. c):i>:. 37. 



THE COKFtS&IOXS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 1 13 

portions of Thy Creation^ w'nh which the very wicked also tit in; 
and that the more, by how much they be unlike Thee; but with the 
superior creature? by how much ihey become more hke ro Thee, 
And I cnquiicd what iniquiiy wj^, and found ic lo be no substancCr 
bur the perversion of the will, turned aside from Thee, O God, the 
Supreme, [owartls these lower things, and casting out its boa/els, 
and puffed up outwardly. 

And 1 wondered that I now loved Thee, and no phantasm for 
Thee. And yet did 1 not press on to en}ay my God; but wa? borne 
up to Thee by Thy heauty, and soon borne down from Thee by 
mine own weight, sinking with sorrow into these inferior things. 
This weight was carnal custom. Yet dwelt there with me a remem- 
brance of Thee; nor did 1 any way doubt that there was One to 
whom I mighc cleave, but that 1 was not yet such as to cleave to 
Thee: for that the body which is corrupted presscth down the ioul, 
and the- earthly tabetnade iveigheth dotvri the mind that mttseih 
upon many thiTigs*'^ And mosr certain I was, that Thy ini'isible 
worlij jrom the creation of the world are clearly seen, being under- 
stood by the things that are made, even Thy eternal power and 
Godhead'^ For examining whence it was that I admired the beauty 
of bodies celestial or terrestrial; and what aided me in judging 
soundly on things mutable^ and pronouncing* "This ought to be 
thus, this not;" examining, I say, whence it was that I so judged, 
seeing I did so judge, I had found the unchange^rble and true Eter- 
nity of Truth above my changeable mind. And thus by degrees I 
passed from bodies to the soul, which through the bodily senses per- 
ceives; and ihence to its inward facuhy, to which the bodily senses 
represent things external, whitherio reach the faculties of beasts; 
and ihence again to the reasoning faculty, to which what is received 
from ibe senses of the body is referred to be judged. Which finding 
itself also to be in me a thing variable, raised itself up to its own 
understanding, and drew away my thoughts from the power of 
habit, withdrawing itself from those troops of contradictory phan- 
tasms- that so it might fmd what that light was wliereby it was be- 
dewed, when, without all doubting, it cried out, "That the unchange- 
able was lo be preferred to the changeable;" whence also it knew That 

«Wisd, n. T^ *^Rom. i. 20. 



i 



114 '^^^ CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

Unchangeable, which, unless it had in some way known, it ha<3 had 
no sure ground to prefer il to the changeable And thus with the 
fl^sh of one trembling glance it arrived at That Which Is. And 
then J saw Thy inuisibis things undm-stood hy ths things which are 
made.*^ But 1 could not fix my gaze [hereon; and my infirmity 
being struck back, I wjs ihrown again on my wonted habits, carry- 
ing along with me only a loving memory thereof, and a longing 
for what I had, as tt were, perceived the odour of, but was not yet 
able to feed on. 

Then I sought a way of obtaining strength sufficient to enjoy 
Thee; and found it nor, until J embraced f/jf?/ Mi^diator bctmxt 
God and jnsn, the Man Christ Jesu^^ u^ho ii over all, God blessed 
for svermoref^ calling unto me,and saying, / am the way, the trtfth, 
and the Uje*' and itsingling that food which I was unable to receive^ 
with our flesh. For, the Word was made fiesh,*^ ihat Thy wisdom, 
whereby Thou createdst all ihings, might provide milk for our in- 
fant state. For I did not hold to my Lord Jesus Christ, I, humbled* 
to the humble; nor knew I yet whereto His infirmity would guide 
us. For Thy Word, the Eternal Truth* far above the higher parts 
of Thy Creation, raises up the subdued unto Itself: but in this lower 
world built for Itself a lowly habitation of our clay, whereby to abase 
from themselves stich as would be subdued, and bring them over 
to Himself- allaying their swelling, and fomenting their love; to 
the end they might go on no further in self-confidence, but rather 
consent to become weak, seeing before their feet the Divinity weak 
by taking our coat^ of s\inf and wearied, might cast themselves 
down upon It, and It rising, might lift ihem up. 

But I ihougln otherwise; conceiving only of my Lord Christ as 
of a man of excellent wisdom, whom no one could be equalled unto; 
especially, for that being wonderfully born o£ a Virgin, He seemed, 
in conformity therewith, through the Divine care for us, to have 
attained that great eminence of authority, for an ensample of despis- 
ing things temporal for the obtaining of immortality. But what 
mystery there lay In "The Word was made flesh," I could not even 
imagine. Oiily I had learnt out of what is delivered to us in writing 

"Rom. i. 20. ^^i Tim. il. 5. ^Roni. ix. 5. ^john xlv. ^. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE II5 

of HJm that He did eai^ 3n6 drink, sleep, wj.lk^ rejoiced in spiiii^ 
was sorrowful, discoursed; chaL ile&h did not cleave by itself unEo 
Thy Word but with the human soul and mind. AH know this who 
know the unchangeableness of Thy Word, which I now knew» a; 
far as I could, nor did I ai all doubt thereof. Fofj now to move the 
limbs o£ the body by will, now not, now to be moved by some affec- 
ifoii, now not, now to deliver wise sayings through human signs. 
now to keep silence, belong to soul and mind subjci:t to variation- 
And should these things be falsely written of Him, all the rest alsc 
would risk the charge, nor would there remain in those books any 
saving faith for mankind. Since then they were written tiuly, i 
acknowledged a perfect man to be in Cl^hrist; not the body of a nun 
only, noi, with the body, a sensiiive soul without a rational, but 
very man; whom, not only as beinjj a form of Truth, but for a cer- 
tain great excellency of human nature and a more perfect participa- 
tion of wisdom, 1 judged Eo be preferred before others. But Alypius 
imagined the Catholics to believe God to be so clothed with flesh, 
thai besides God and flesh, there was no soul at all in Christ, and 
did not think that a human mind Was ascribed to him. And be- 
cause be was well persuaded that the actions recorded of Him could 
only be performed by a vital and a rational creature, he moved the 
more slowly towards ihe Christian Faith- But understanding after- 
wards ihai this was the error of the Apollinarian heretics, he joyed 
in and was conformed to the Catholic Faith- But jiomewhal later, 
1 confess, did I learn how in that sayijig. The Word u^as mad^ flesh, 
the Catholic Truth is distinguished from the falsehood of Photlnus. 
For the rejection of heretics makes the tenets of Thy Church and 
sound doctrine to stand out more clearly. For there must also be 
herssks, ihat the approved may be nmdf! matiijest among the tvea\^ 
But having then read those books of the Platonists, and thence 
been taught to search for incorporeal truth, 1 saw Thy invisible 
things, understood by those things luhich are madei'^ and though 
cast back, 1 perceived whai ihar was which through the darkness of 
my mind I was hindered from contemplating, being assured, "That 
Thou weri^ and wert infiniie, and yet not diffused in .space, finite 
or infinite" and that Thou truly art who arc the same ever, in no 

^ I Cor- Ki. 19. ^' Rom. i- ao. 



i 



Il6 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

part nor motion varying; and that all other things are from Thee, 
on this most sure ground alone, that they are." Of these things I 
was assured, yet too unsure to enjoy Thee. I prated as one well 
skilled; but h:id 1 not sought Thy way in Christ our Saviour, I had 
proved to be, not skilled, but kilted. For now I had begun to wish 
to seem wise, being filled with mine own punishment, ye: I did not 
mourn, but rather scorn, puffed up with kno^'ledge.''^ For where 
was that charity building upon the jotendation o£ humility, which is 
Chrisi Jcms?^^ or ^vhen should these books teach me it? Upon 
these, I believe. Thou therefore willedst that 1 should fall, before 
1 studied Thy Scriptures, that it might be imprinted on my memory 
how I was aifected by them; and that afterwards when my spirits 
were tamed through Thy books, and my wounds touched by Thy 
healing fingers, I might discern and distinguish between presump- 
tion and confession; between those who saw whither they were to 
go, yet saw not the way, and the way that leadeth not to behold only 
but to dwell in the beatific country. For had I first been formed in 
Thy Holy Scriptures, and hadst Thou in the familiar use of them 
grown sweet unto me, and had I then fallen upon those other vol- 
umes, they might perhaps have withdrawn me from the solid 
ground of piety, or, had I continued in that healthful frame which 
I had thence imbibed, I might have tliought that it might have been. 
(Stained by the study of those books alone. 

Most eagerly then did I seiae that venerable writing of Thy Spirit; 
and chiefly the Apostle Paul. Whereupon those difficulties vanished 
away, wherein he once seemed to me to contradict himself, and the 
text of his discourse not to agree with the testimonies of the Law and 
the Prophefs. And the face of th.it pure word appeared to me one 
and the same; ajid 1 learned to rejoice with tremhling!'^ So I began; 
and whatsoever truth I had read in those other books, I found here 
amid the praise of Thy Grace; that whoso sees, may not so glory 
as if hs had not receifed'"'" not only what he sees, but also that he 
sees (/or what hath he, which he hath not received?') ^ and that he 
may be not only admonished to behold Thee, Who art ever the same, 
but also healed, to hold Thee, and that he who cannot see afar off, 
may yet walk on the way, whereby he may arrive, and behold, and 

^^ I Cflr, viii, I. ^^Ib'd. iii. ii. " P$. li. ii, ^^ t Cor. iv. j. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST- AUGUSTINE II7 

liold Thee. For, though a m:m be delighted with the tatv of God 
after the ijincr rijan,^^ what shall he do with that other law in his 
members which warreth against the latu of his mind, and bringeth 
hirn into a/piifity to the lanf of si/i which is in his jnemhers?" For» 
Thoi! art righteous. O Lord, but ire hai/f sinned and coni?nitted in- 
iqtiity, and have done wici^edly^^ and Thy h;md is grown heavy 
upon u^, and we are justly delivered over unto that ancient sinner, 
ihc king o£ titath; bec^us^: he persuaded our wiU to be hkc his will, 
whereby he abode not in Thy truth. What shall wretched man do? 
tvho shall di'lii/cr him from the body 0/ this death, but only Thy 
Grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord!'^ whom Thou hast hegotien 
C'f-eternali iirxl jormedst in the beginning of Thy ways!''^ in vjhom 
the prince of this world found nothing worthy of deathj^ yet kihed 
he HiriT; ^mlthe handwriting, which was contrary to us. was blotted 
out?^^ This ihose writings contain not- Those pages present not the 
image ot this piety, the tears of confession, Thy sacrifice, a troubled 
spirit, a brol^en and n contrite heartf^ the salvation o£ the people^ 
thp Bridal Oly!'^ the earnest of the Holy Chost^^' the Cup oj our 
Redemption.'^ No man sings there- Shall not my soul be submitted 
unto God? jor of Him cometh my salvation. For He is my God and 
tny salvation, my guardian. I shall no more be moved^^ No one 
■^hcrc hears tlim call, Come unto Me, all ye that labour^ They 
scorn to learn of Him, because He is mccl{ and lowly in heart; jor 
these things hast Thou hid from the wise and prudent, and hast re- 
vealed them unto habest'^ For it is one thing, from the mounlain's 
shaggy top to see the land of peace, and to find no way thither;'" 
and in vain to essay through ways unpassable. opposed and beset 
by fugitives and deserters, under their captuin the lion and the dra- 
gon: and another to keep on the way that leads thither, guarded by 
the host of the heavenly General; where they spoil not who have 
deserted the heavenly army; for they avoid it, as very torment. These 
things did wonderfully sink into my bowels, when I re;id (hat least 
of Thy Apostles^^ and had meditated upon Thy works, and trembled 
exceedingly. 

** Rom. vii, 11. ^'Roni. vii. ij, ^ Snng nf rht Three Children, 4 « s^g. 

^'Rom. vii, J4, ^Prav. viiL u, ^^ Inhn yiu. 30. ^*Col. ii. 14- 

*^Pi. li, 17. ^Rcv. y:ii. J. "3 Cor. v. 5. « Ps. CKVf. ij. 



THE EIGHTH BOOK 

Augustine's [hirty-sccond year. He consult? Simplkianus: from him Tipars 
the history ot the conversion of Victorinus, and Eongs to devote him- 
self entirely lo God» but is mastered by his old habuji- i; still fur- 
ther rouseJ by the iiistory of St, Antony^ and the conversion of iwo 
coiir[iersi during a severe struggJe hears a voice from heav[;n, opens 
Scripture, and is converted, with his friend Alypius. Hia mother's 
vision iulljlled. 

OMY God, let me, with fhanksgiving* remember, and con- 
fess unto Thcc Thy mercies on me. Lei my bonss be be- 
dewed with Tfiy lovej and let them iay unto Thee, Who 
is li^e unto Thee, O Lord?^ Thou hast broken my bonds in sunder. 
I a/ill offer unto Thee the sacrifice of thant^sgii/ing^ And how Thou 
ha5t broken them* 1 will declare; and all who worship Thee, when 
they hear this» shall iay, "Blesied be the Lord in heaven and in earth, 
great and wonderful is His name." Thy words had stuck tast in my 
heart, and I was hedged round shoitt on all sides by Thee? Of Thy 
eternal life 1 was now certain, though I saw it in a figure and as 
through a glass.^ Yet I had ce,ised lo doubt that there was an in- 
corruptible substance, whence was all other subalimcc; nor did 1 now 
desire to be more certain of Thee, but more steadfast in Thee. But 
for my temporal life, all was wavering, and my heart had to be 
purged from the old leaven^ The Way^ the Savioirr Himself, well 
pleased mc, but as yet 1 shrunk from going through its sirailnesi. 
And Thou didit put into my mind, and it seemed good in my 
eyes, to go to Simplicianus, who seemed to me a good servant of 
Thine; and Thy grace shone in him. 1 had heard also that from 
his very youth he had lived most devoted unto Thee, Now he was 
grown into years; and by reason o£ so great age spent in such zealous 
following of Thy ways, he seemed to me likely to have learned much 
experience; and so he had. Out of which store I wished that he 

'Ps- xa*v. 10- "Ps. OL^i. i6, 17. ' Jnb, i, lo. *i Cor^ jiil li. 

*i Cor. V. 7. ^JoKn «*, 6. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE lig 

would tell me (sealing before him my jnsietics) which were the 
fitiest way for one in my case to walk in Thy padis. 

VoFj I saw the church full; and one went this way» and another 
chit! way. Bur 1 was displeased ihat 1 led a secular life; yea now 
ihat my desires no longer inflamed me» as oi old, with hopes of 
honour and profil, a very grievous burden it was to undergo so 
heavy a bondage. For, in comparison of Thy sweetness^ arid the 
beauty of Thy house which I toi/f^dj those things delighted me no 
longer. But stii] I was enthralled with the love of woman; nor did 
the Aposde forbid me to marry, although he advised me to some- 
thing better, chiefly wishing that nil men were as himself was? But 
I being weak, chose [he more indulgent place; and because of this 
alone* was tossed up and down in all beside, faint and wasted with 
withering Cnires, because in other matters I was constrained against 
my will to conform myself to a married lifej to which I was given 
up and enthralled. I had heard from the mouth of the Truth, that 
there were some eunuchs which had made themsetves eunuchs for 
the t^ingdo/n of hear/en's sal{e: but. saith He, let him who can re- 
ceive it, receive it^ Surely vain are all men who are ignorant of 
Cod, and could not ottt of the good things which are seen, find out 
Him li/ho is good}** But I was no longer in tliat vanity; 1 had sur- 
mounted it; and by the common witness of all Thy creatures hjid 
found Thee otir Creator, and Thy Word, God with Thee, and to- 
gether with Thee one God, by whom Thou createdst all things. 
There is yet another kind of ungodly, who- l^noiving God. glorified 
Him not as God, neither were thankjtd}^ Into this also I had fallen, 
but Thy right hand upheld me,^^ and took me thence, and Thou 
pbcedst me where I might recover. For Thou hast said unto man, 
Behold, the fear of the Lord is wisdom^^ and, Desire not to seem 
wise;'* because they who affirmed themseli/es to be wise, became 
jools}^ But 1 had now found the goodly pearl, which, selling all 
that J had''' I ought to have bought, aiid I hesitated. 

To Simplicianus tJien I went, the faiher of Ambrose (a Bishop 
now) in receiving Thy grace, and whom Ambrose truly loved as a 

father. To him 1 relaied the mazes of my wanderings. Bui when 

iPt. jLsxvi. a. a J Cor. vii, S. i'MsfT. siv. u, i«WUd, xm. i. 
"Rom. i. jTr '^Pi^- ikili. i$. " |ob. x:iviii. aj. ^*Prov. iii. 7. 



120 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

1 mentioned ihat I had read certain books of ihc Plaionists, which 
Victorinus, someiime Rhetoric Professor of Rome {who had died 
a Chri.siian^ as I had heard), had translated into Latin, he testified 
his joy thai I had iioL fyllen upon Lhc writings of other philosophers, 
full of jiillucies atsd deceits, ajcer the nidimejits of this t^orhiy 
whereas the Pkionisis many W5ys led to the belief in God and His 
Word. Then to exhort me to the humility oi Christ, hidden from the 
tvise^ and revealed to little owfj," he spoke of Victorinits himself, 
whom while at Rome he had most intimately known: and of him he 
related what I will noi conceal. For it contains great praise of Thy 
gi'ace, to be confessed unto Thee, how that aged man, most learned 
and skilled in the libera! sciences, and who had read, and weighed 
so many works of the philosophers; the instructor of so many noble 
Senators, who also, as a monument of his excellent discharge of his 
office, had (which men of this world esteem a high honour) both 
deserved and obtained a statue in the Roman Fornm; he, to that 
age a worshipper of idols, and a partaker ot the sacrilegious rites, to 
which almost all the nobility of Rome were given up, and hjd 
inspired the people with the love of 

"Anub[s, barking DL'iiy, and all 
The monster Gods of every kind, who fought 
*Gainst Ntptunc, Venus, and Minerva": 

whom Rome once conquered, now adored, all which the aged 
Victorinus had with thundering elotjuence so many years defended; 
— be now blushed not Lo be the chiltl of Thy Christ, and the new- 
born babe of Thy fountain; submitting his neck to the yoke of 
humility, and subduing his forehead to the reproach of the Cross, 

O Lord, Lord, Whiek hast boH'cd the heavens and eome down, 
touched the tnoiintaitis and they did jjno,^f,'^ by what means didst 
Thou convey Thyself into that breast? He used to read (as Simplic- 
ianus said) the holy Scripture, most studiously sought and searched 
imo all the Christian writings, and said to Simplicianus (not openly, 
but privately and as a friend), "Understand that I am already a 
Christiam" Whereto he answered, "I will not believe it, nor will I 
rank yoti among Chriatians, unless T see you in the Church of 
"Col. n. S, "Mjit. ^i. ?5. 3i*Ps. zxVvv. 5. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 121 

Christ'* The other^ in banter replied, "Do walls then make Chris- 
tiansf" And this he ofien said, chat he was already a Chriiiiaiii and 
Simplicianus as often made the same answer, and ihe conceit o£ 
the "walls'* was by the oilier as often renewed. For he feared to 
offend his friends, proud d-pmon- worshippers, from the height of 
whose Babylonian dignity, as from cedars of Libanus^ which ihe 
Lord had not yet brolien dottfn, he supposed the weight of enmity 
would fall upon him. But afier that by reading and earnest thought 
he had gathered firmness, and feared to be denied by Chrisl before 
the holy angels, should he noii/ be afraid io confess Him before 
men" and appeared to himself guilty of a heavy ofTence, in being 
ashamed of [he Sacraments of the humility of Thy Word, and not 
being ashamed of the sacrilegious rites of those proud daemons, 
whose pride he had imitated and their rites adopted, he became 
bold-fjced against vanity, and shame-faced towards the truth, and 
suddenly and unexpectedly said to Simplicianus (as himself told 
me), "Go we to the Church; I wish to be made a Christian," But 
he, not containing himself for joy, went with him. And having 
been admitted to die first Sacrament and become a Catechumen, not 
long after he further gave in his name, that he might be regenerated 
by baptism, Rome wondering, the Church, rejoicing. The proud 
Sfw, and were wroth; they gnashed ii>ilh their teeth, and Juclted 
awsy?"^ But the hprd God was the hope of Thy serv;mE, and he 
regarded not vanities and lying madness/ 

To conclude, when the hour was come for making profession of 
his faith (which at Rome they, who are about to approach to Thy 
grace, deliver, from an elevated place, in the sight of all the faithful, 
in a set form of words committed to memory), the presbyters, he 
said, offered Viciorinus (as was done to such as seemed likely 
through bashfnlness to be alarmed) to make his profession more 
privately: but he chose rather (o proEcss his salvation in the presence 
of the holy muTlitude. *'For it was not salvation that he taught in 
rhetoric, and yet that he had publicly professed: how much less 
then ought he, when pronouncing Thy word, to dread Thy meek 
flockj who. when delivering his own words, had not feared a mad 
multitude!" When, then, he went up to make his profession) all, 

"Ps, 3113. 5. "Luke a.. 26. "Pi. "li. 10- "P5- x\x{. 6, 40. cit. 



L 



122 THE CONFESSIOXS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

as ihey knew him, whispered his name one lo another with the voice 
of congratulniion. And who there knew him not? and there ran a 
low murmur through all the mouths o£ the rejoicing muhitutle, 
Viciorinus! Victorinuif Sudden Wnts the hurst of rapture, that they 
saw him; suddenly were they hushed that they might hear him. 
He pronounced the true faith with an excellent boldness, and all 
wished to draw him into their very heart: yea hy their love and joy 
they drew him thithi^r, such were the Iwnds wherewith they drew 
him. 

Good Cod! what rakes place in man that he should more rejoice 
at the salvation of a soul despaired of, and freed from greater peril, 
than if there had ahviiys been hope of him, or the danger had been 
less? For so Thou also^ merciful Father, dost more tejo}ce over one 
penitent than Oi/er iiinety-nini: just ptrsons thist need no yepent- 
ance^^ And with much joyfulness do we ht^ar^ so often as we hear 
with what joy the sheep which had strayed is brou^^ht bacf^ upon 
the shepherd's shoiddsr, and the groat is restored to Thy treasury, 
the neighbours rejoicing u-iih the tfoinnTi who jound it;-" and the 
joy of the solemn service of Thy house forceih to tears, when in Thy 
house it is read of Thy younger son. ihat he was dead, and tii^eth 
again; had been lost, and is juimd. For Thou rejoicest in us, and 
in Thy holy augeU, holy through holy charity. For Thou art ever 
the same; for all things which abide not the same nor for ever» Thou 
for ever knowest in the same way. 

What then takes place in the loul, when ic is more delighted at 
finding or recovering the things it loves, than if it had ever had 
them? yea, and other ihinijs witness hereunto; and all things are 
full o£ witnesses, crying out, "So is it.'* The conquering commander 
triumphant; yet had he not conquered unless he had fought; and 
the more peril there was in the battle, so much the more joy is there 
in the triumph. The storm tosses the sailors, threatens shipwreck; 
all wax pale at approaching dcaih; sky and sea are calmed, and they 
are exceedingly joyed, as having been exceedmg afraid. A friend is 
sick, and his pulic threatens danger; all who long for his recovery 
are sick in mind with him. He is restored, though as yet he walks 
not with his former strength; yet there is such joy, as was not, when 

^ Lukt xu. 7. ^ Vcr. 5—9. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE 123 

before he walked sound and surong. Yea, die very pleasures of hu- 
man life men acquire by difiicuUies, nor ihose only which fdll upon 
us unlooked for, and aii^irisi our wills, but even by self-chosen, and 
pleasure-seeking crouble. Eating and drinking have no pleasure, 
unless there precede the pinching o£ hunger and thirst. Men, given 
to drink, eat certain salt meats, to procure a troublesome heat, which 
the drink allaying* causes pleasure. It is alio ordered that the alii- 
anced bride should not at once be fliven, lest as a hu^and he should 
hold cheap whom, as betrothed, he siyhed not after. 

This law holds in foul and accursed joy; this m permitted and 
lawful joy; this in the very purest perfection of friendship; this, ni 
him Ufho n'a$ dead, ajid lived again; had been lost and wai jotmd. 
Every where the greater joy is ushered in by the greater pain, Whji 
means this, O Lord my God, whereas Thou art everlastingly joy to 
Thyself, and some things around Thee evermore rejoice in Thee? 
What means this, that this portion of things thus ebbs and flows 
alrernaiely displeased and reconciled? Is this their allotted measure? 
Is this all Thou hast assigned to them, whereas from ihe highest 
heavens lo the lowest earth, from the beginning of the world to the 
end oE ages, from the angel to the worm, from the first motion to 
the last. Thou settest each in its place, and realisest enich in their 
season, every thing good after its kind.'^ Woe is me! how high art 
Thou in the highest, and how deep in the deepest! and Ihou never 
depariest, and we scarcely return to Thee. 

Up, Lord, and do; stir us up, and recall us; kindle and draw us; 
inflame, grow sweet unto us; let us now love, let us riin"'^ Do not 
many, out of a deeper hell of blindness tlun Victorinus, return to 
Thee> approach, and are enlightened, receiving that U'^ht. which 
they who receive, receive pQwt-r jrotn Thei- to become Thy sam?"' 
But if they be less known to the nations, even they that know rhem, 
joy less for them. For when many joy together, each also iias more es- 
uberant joy; for that ihey are kindled and inflamed one by the other. 
Again, because those known to many, influence the more towards 
salvation, and lead the way with many to follow. And iherefore do 
they also who preceded them much rejoice not in them, because 
they rejoice not in them alone. For far be it, that in Thy taher- 



iL 



124 '^^^ CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

iiacle ihe persons of the rich should be accepted before ihe poor, or 
the noble before the ignobEe; seeing rnther 'I'hou hast chosen the 
iceak^ things oj the woitd to conjotind the strong; and the base 
things oj this tvorld. and the things despised hast Thou chosen, and 
those things which are not, that Thoit jtiightesi bring to nought 
things that are^ And yci even that least oj Thy ApostteSj^ by whose 
tongue ThoLi souiidedest forth these Avordsj when through his war- 
fare, Paulus the Proconsul^ his pride conquered, was made lo pass 
under the easy yo\e of Thy Christ, and became a provincial of the 
gre,it King; he also for his former name Saal, was pleased to be 
called Paul, in testimony of so great a victory. For the enemy is 
more overcome in one, of whom he haih more hold; by whom he 
hath hold of more. But [he proud he liaih more hofd of, ihrough 
their nobility; and by ihem, of more through their authority. By 
how much the more welcome then the heart of Victorinus was es- 
teemed, which the devil had held as an impregnable possession, 
ihc tongue of ViccorinuSi with which mighty and keen weapon he 
had slain many; so much the more abundantly ought Thy sons to 
rejoice, for that our King hath bound the strong man^ and they 
5aw his vessels tal^en from him and cleansed, sind made meet for 
Thy honour f^ and become seri^iceabte for the Lord, unto cfcry good 
worl:_,'^ 

But when that man of Thine, Simplicianus, related to me this of 
Victorinus, I was on Rre lo imitate him; for for [his very end had 
he related it. But \^'hen he had subjoined also, ho^v in [he days of 
(he Emperor Julian a law was made, whereby Christians were for- 
bidden to teach the libera! sciences or oratory; and how he, obeying 
this law, chose radier to give over [he wordy school than Thy Word, 
by which Thou ma\est eloquent the tongues of the diiinb;^^ he 
seemed to me not more resolute than blessed, in having thus found 
opportunity to wait on Thee only. Which thing I was sighing for, 
bound as 1 was, not with another's irons';, but by my own iron wilL 
My will the enemy held, and thence had m&de a cLiin for me, and 
bound me. For of a froward will, was a lust made; and a lusl 
served* became custom; and custom not resis[ed, became nece5si[y. 
By which links, as it were, joined together (whence I called it a 

'^ 1 Cofr I, ;-, ?8. ''i Cnr. nw p, ^Mq", *", iy. ^' Luke \\. 33, 25. 

i'Tim. il. 21. «w;sd, !*, :i. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE I25 

chain) a hard bondage held me enthralled. But that new will which 
had begun to be in me, freely to ser\'e Thee, and to wish, to en- 
joy Thee, O God» the only assured ple^s:intness, wa^ noE yet abli? 
to overcoine my former wilfutnes^^ strengthened by age. Thus 
did my two wills, one new^ and ihe other old, one carnal^ the 
other splmual^ strugj;le within nie; and by their discojdj undid my 
soul. 

Thus I understood^ by my own experience, what 1 had readj how 
the finsh hislcth against the spirit and the spirit againit the flesh}^ 
My&elE verily either way; yet moie myself, in that which 1 approved 
in myself, (him in that which in myself I disapproved.* For in diis 
last, it was now for the more pan nor myself, because in much I 
rather endured against my will, than acted willingiy. And yet it 
was through me, that cuf^tom had obtained tliis power of warring 
against me^ because 1 had come willingly, whither 1 willed not. 
And who has any right to speak against it, if just punisliment fol- 
low the sinner? Nor had I mnv any longer my former plea^ that 1 
therefore as yet hesitated to be above the world and serve Thee, for 
that the truth was not allogetljer ascertained to me; for now it loo 
was. But 1, still under service to the earth, refused to fight under 
Thy banner, and feared as much to be freed of all encumbrances, a? 
we should fear to be encumbered with it. Thus with the baggage 
o£ this present world was I held down pleasantly, jjs in sleep; and 
the thoughts wherein 1 meditated on Thee were like die efforts of 
such as would a^vate, who yet overcome with a heavy drowsiness, 
are again drenched therein. And as no one would sleep for ever, 
and in all men's sober iudgmeiit waking is better, yet a man for the 
most part, feeling a heavy lethargy in all his limbs, defers to shake 
off sleep, and, though half displeased, yet even, after it is time to 
rise, with pleasure yields to ii, so was I assured that much better 
were it for me to give myself up to Thy charity, than to give 
myself over to mine own cupidity; but though the former course 
satisfied me and gained the mastery, the latter pleased me and held 
me mastered. Nor bad 1 any thing to answer Thee caJUng to me. 
Au/al^e ihoii that ihcpest, and arise from the dead, and Christ 
shall give thee Ught^ And when Thou didst on all sides sliow me 
that what Thou saidst was true, I, convicted by the truths liad coth- 

^C,^\. V. sy. ^!Rum. vii. iH. »Eph, v. 14. 



3 

I 



126 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

ing ai all to answer* but only chose dull iiiid drow&y words, "Anon» 
anon," "presently/^ "leave me but a liule." But ^'prciEntly* pres- 
emly/' bad no prescm, and my "litde while" wenE on for a long 
while; in vain I /felighied in Thy lum according to the inner tnari. 
when another law in my members rebelled against the law of my 
mind, and led me eaprii/e lender the law of sin which was in my 
members}^ For the law o£ siu is the violence of CLislom, wherry 
[he mind is drawn and hoMcn. even against its wiH; but deservedly, 
for that it willingly fell into it. Who then should deliuer me thus 
wretched from the body of this death, but Thy grace only, through 
festts Christ our Lord?^ 

And how Thou did&i deliver me out of the bonds of desire, where- 
with 1 was bound most siraitly Eo carnal concupiscence, and out of 
[he drudgery of worldly things, I will now declare, and confess unto 
Thy namcj Lord, my helper and my Redeemer.^ Amid increas- 
ing anxiety, I was doing my wonted business, and daily sighing 
unto Thee. I attended Thy Church, whenever free from the busi- 
ness under the burden of which I groaned. Alypius was with me» 
now after the third sitring released from his law business, and wait- 
ing to whom to sell his counsel, as I sold the skill of speaking, if 
indeed leaching can impart it. Nebiidius had now, In consideration 
of our friendship, consented to teach under Vcrccundus, a citizen 
and a grammarian of Milan, and a very imimate friend of us all; 
who urgently desired, and by ihe right of friendship challenged 
from our company, such faithful aid as he greatly needed, Nebridius 
then was not drawn to this by any desire of advantage (for he might 
have made much more of his learning had he so willed), but as a 
most kind and gentle friend, he would not be wanting to a good 
office, and slight our request. But he acted herein very discreetly, 
shunning to become known 10 personages great according to this 
world, avoiding the distraction of mind thence ensuing, and desiring 
to have it free and at leisure, as many hours as might be, :o seek, 
or read, or hear something concerning wisdom. 

Upon a day then, Nebridius being absent (I recollect not why), 
lo, there came to see me and Alypius, one Pontitianus, our country- 
man so far as being an African, in high office in the Emperor's 
"Eoni, viL a3. ^^ Vcr. 24. ^5. *'F&- vlt, 14, 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE VT] 

court. Whyt he would with us^ 1 know noi, buc we sat down to 
converse, and ic happened that upon a table for some game» before 
USt he observed a book, took, opened it^ and contrary \q his expecta- 
tion» found it the Apostle Paul; for he had thoughi it some of those 
books which 1 was wearing myself in [caching. WbcreaC smiling, 
and looking^ at me, he expressed his joy and wonder that he had on 
a sudden found this book, and this only before my eyes. For 
he was a Christian, and bapiised, and often bowed himself before 
Thee our God in the Church, in frequent and continued prayers. 
When then I had told him that 1 bestowed very great pains upo:t 
ihose Scriptures, a conversation arose (snggested by his account) 
on Antony the Egyptian monk; whose name was in high leputatinn 
among Thy servants, though to thiit hour unknown to us. Which 
when he discovered, he dwelt the more m>on di;st subject, inform- 
ing and wondering at our ignorance of one so eminent. I3ut ^ve 
stood amazed, hearing Thy wonderful works most fully attested, in 
times so recent, and almost in our own, wrought in the true Faith 
and Church Catholic. We all wondered; we^ that they were so great, 
and he, that they had not reached us. 

Thence hEs discourse turned to the flocks in the monasteries, and 
their holy ways, a sweet-smcIling savour unto Thee, and the fruitful 
deserts of ihe wilderness, whereof we know nothing. And there was 
a monastery at Milan, full of good brethren, without the city walls, 
under the fostering care of Ambrose, and we knew it not. He went 
on with his disicourse, and we listened in intent silence. He told us 
then how one afternoon at Triers, when the Emperor was taken up 
with the Circensian games, he and three others, his companions, 
went out to walk in gardens near the city walls, and there as they 
happened to walk in pairs, one went apart with htm. and the other 
[WO wandered by themselves; and these, in their wanderings, lighted 
upon a certain cottage, mhabited by certain of Thy servants, poor in 
spirit, oj whom is iSn.' l{sn'^tloin of heai/en*" and there they found 
a little book cuntaining the life of Antony. This one of them began 
to read, admire and kindle at it; and as he read, to meditate on taking 
up such a hfe, and giving over his secular service to serve Thee, 
And these two were of those whom they style agents for the public 

"Mall. V- 3. 



ITS the confessions of ST. AUGUSTINE 

affairs. Then suddenly^ filled with an holy love, and a sober shame, 
in anger wilh himself he casL his eyes upon his friendf saying, *^Tell 
me, I pray ihee, whaL would we attain by all these labours of ours? 
what aim wc aiP what serve we for? Can our hopes in court rise 
higher than lo be the Emperor's favourites? and in this, what is there 
not brittle, and full of perils? and by how many perits arrive we at 
a greater peril? and when arrive we thither? But a friend of God, 
if I wish it, I become now at once-" So spake he. And in pain witli 
the travail of a new life, he turned his eyes again upon the book, and 
read on, and was changed inwardl^^ where Thou sawest, and his 
mind was stripped of the worH, as soon appeared. For as he read 
and rolled up and down die waves of his heart, he stormed at him- 
self a while, then discerned, and determined on a better course^ and 
now being "fhine, said Lo his friend, "Now have 1 broken loose from 
those our hopes* and am resolved to serve God; and this, from this 
hour* in this place, I begin upon. If thou iikest noi lo imitate me, 
oppose not," The other answered, he would cleave to him, to partake 
so glorious a reward, so glorious a service. Thus both being now 
Thine, were baiiiling the tower at ihe necessary cost, the JQfia\ing 
all that they had, and jotlowing Thec^* Then Pontitianus and the 
other with him, that had walked in other parts of rhe garden, came 
rn search of (hem to the same place; and linding ihem, reminded 
them to return, for the day was now far spent. But they relating 
their resolution and purpose, and how that will was hegun and 
settkd in them, begged them, if they would not foin, not to molest 
them. But the others, though nothing altered from their former 
selves, did yet bewail themselves (as he affirmed), and piously con- 
gratulated them, recommending themselves to their prayers; and 
so, with hearts lingering on the earth, went away tn the palace. But 
the other two, filing their heart on heaven, remained in the cottage. 
And both had alfianced brides, who when they heard hereof, also 
dedicated their virginity unto God. 

Such was the story of Pontitianus; but Thou, O Lord, while he 
was speaking, didst turn me round towards myself, taking me from 
behind my back where 1 had placed me, unwilling to observe myself; 
and setting me before my face, that I might see how foul I was^ how 
crooked and defiled, benpotted and ulcerous. And 1 beheld and 

*^ Lube «iv, j(i-35. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGU&TINE 120 

itood aghast; an^ whiiher lo flpc from myself I found not. And i£ T 
sought to turn mine eye from off myself^ he went on with his rela- 
tion, and Thou again dldir s^t me over againsi myseif, and ihrusredsr 
mc before my eyes, that / might fmd ottt 7nine iniquity, and hate it** 
I had known it, but made as though I saw ir not, wrnked at it, Dnd 
forgot it. 

But now, [he more ardently I loved those whose healthful alTec- 
lions I heard of, that ihey had resigned themselves wholly to Thee 
to be cured, the more did I abhor myself, when compared wilh them. 
For many of my years (some twelve) had now run nut with me since 
my nineteenth, when, upon the rcadmg of Cicero's Hortensius, I was 
stirred to aa earnest love of wisdom; and still I was deferring to re- 
ject mere earthly felicity, and give myself to search out that, whereof 
not the finding only, but the very search, ^vas to be preferred to the 
treasures and kingdoms of the xvorld, though already found, and 
to the pleasures of the body, though spread around me at my will. 
But I wretched, most wretched, in the very commencement of my 
early youth, had begged chastity of Thee, and said, *'Give me chas^ 
tity and continency. onlv not yei." For 1 feared lest Thou shouMcst 
hear me soon, and soon cure me of [he disease of concupiscence, 
which i wished to have satisfied, rather than extinguished. And I 
had wandered through crooked ways in a sacrilegious superstition, 
not indeed assured thereof, but as preferring it to the others which 
J did not seek religiously, but opposed maliciously. 

1 had thought that I therefore deferred from day to day to reject 
the hopes of ihis world, and follow Thee only, because there did not 
appear aught certain, whither to direct my course. And now was the 
day come wherein I was to be laid bare to myself, and my conscience 
was to upbraid me. "Where art thou now, my tongue? Thou saidst 
that for an uncertain truth thou likedsi not to cast off the baggage 
of vanity; now, it is certain, and ye: that burden still opprcsseth thee, 
while they who neither have worn themselves out with seeking it, 
nor for ten years and more have been thinking thereon, have had 
their shoulders lightened, and received wings to fly away." Thus 
was I gnawed within, and exceedingly confounded with a horrible 
shame, while Pontitianus was so speaking. And he having broughr 
to a close his tale and the business he came for, went his way; and I 



T30 THE CONFESSIOX'S OF ST. AUCUSHNE 

into myself. What said I not ag;un3i myscifP with what scourges 
o£ condiannacion bahcd I not any soul, that it might follow me» striv- 
ing to go afier Thee! Yet it drew back; refused, but excused not 
itself. All arguments Were spent and confuted; there remained a 
mute shrinking; and she feared, as she would death, to be restrained 
from the fluK ot that custom^ ^vherehy she v,'ns waiting to death. 

Then in this great contention of my inward dwellings which 1 
had strongly raised against tny souli in the cfiambe/'^ of my heart, 
troubled in mind and countenance, I turned upon Alypius. "What 
ails us?" 1 exclaim: "what is itP what heardcst thou? The unlearned 
start up and taf^e hcat^in by forciff* and wc with our learning, and 
without heart, lo, where we wallow in flesh and blood! Are we 
ashamed to foUo^v, because others are gone before, and not ashamed 
nor even to follow?" Some sncli words 1 uttered, and my fever of 
mind tore me away from him, while he, gazing on me in astonish- 
meni^ kept silence. For it was not my wonted tone; and my fore- 
head, cheeksT eyes^ colour, tone of volce^ spake my mind more than 
the words I uttered. A little garden there was to our lodging, which 
wc had [he use of, as of the whole housed for the master of the house, 
our host, was not living there. Thither had the tumult of my breast 
hurried mc, where no man might hinder the hot contention wherein 
I had engaged with myself, until it should end as Thou knewest, 1 
knew nor. Only 1 was healthfully distracted and dying, to live; know- 
ing what evil thing I was^ and not knowing what good thing 1 was 
shortly to become. 1 reiired ihen inio the garden, and Alypius, on 
my steps. For his presence did not lessen my privacy; or how could 
he forsake me so disturbed? We sate down as far removed as might 
be from the house. I was troubled in spirit, most vehemently indig- 
nant that I entered not into Thy will and covenant, O my God, 
which alt my bone^ cried out unto me to enter, and praised it to the 
skies. And therein we enter not by ships, or chariots, or feet, no, 
move not so far as I had come from the house to that place where 
we were sitting. For, not to go only, but to go in thither wa^ nothing 
else but 10 will lo go, but to will resolutely and thoroughly; not to 
turn and toss, this way and that, a maimed and half-divided will, 
struggling, with one: part sinking as another rose. 



THE CONFtSSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE I3I 

Lastly, in the very fever of my iiresoluteness, I made wirh my 
body many such motions as men snmettmcji would* but cannot* if 
either they have noL ihc Hmb?, or these be bound with bynds, weak- 
ened with infirmity, or any other way hindered. Thus, if I tore my 
hair, beat my forehead, if locking my fingers 1 clasped my knees; 1 
willed* I did it. But I might have willed, and not done ii; if the 
power o£ motion in my limbs had not obeyed. So many things then 
I did* when ''to will" was not in itself "to be jible"; and I did nor 
what both 1 longed incomparably more to do, and which soon after, 
when 1 should will, 1 should bo able to do; because soon after, when 
I should will, I should will thoroughly. For in these things the ability 
was one with the will* and to will was to do; and yet was it not done: 
and more easily did my body obey the we^ikest willing of my soul, 
in moving its limbs at its nod, than the soul obeyed itself to accom- 
plish in the will alone this its momentous will. 

Whence is this monstrousness? and to ^vbat end? Let Thy mercy 
gleam chat 1 may ask, if so be the secret penalties of men, and those 
darkest pangs of the sons of Adam* may perhaps answer me. Whence 
is this monstrousness P and to what end? The mind commands the 
body, and it obeys instandy; the mind commands itself, and is re- 
sisted. The mind commands the hand to be moved; and such readi- 
ness is there* that commjnd is scarce distinct from obedience. Yet 
the mind is mind, the hand is body. The mind commands the mind, 
its own self, to will and yet it doth not. Whence this monstrousness? 
and to what end ? It commands itself, 1 say, to will, and would not 
command, unless it willed, and what it commands is not done. But 
it willeth not entirely: therefore doth it not command entirely. For 
so far forth it commandeth, as it willeth; and, so far forth is the 
thing commanded, not done, as it willeth not. For the will com- 
mandeih thst there be a will-* not another, but itself. But it doth not 
command entirely, therefore what it commandeth, is not. For were 
the will entire, it would not even command it lo be* because it 
would already be. It is therefore no monstrousness partly to will, 
pardy to nill, but a disease of the mind* that it doth not wholly rise, 
by truth up-borne, borne down by custom. And therefore are there 
two wills, for that one of them is not entire: and what the one 
lacketh, the other hath. 



l 



132 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

het them perish from Thy presence*'' O God, as perish vain tal^" 
ers and icducen^^ of ihe soul: who observing thai in deliberating 
there were two wills, iilHrm ih^ft ihcre ^re two minds in us of two 
kinds, one good, the other evih Themselves Jire truly evil, when ihey 
hold these evil thJLjga: :ind ihfmselves sh;jll become good when they 
hold the irtuh and assent unto ihe iruth^ thar Thy Aponle may say 
to them, Vf were sometijues dai\nesi, but now light in the L.ord^ 
But ihey, wishing 10 be light, not in the Lord^ hut in themselves, 
imagining the nature of the soul to be that which God is, RtG made 
more gross darkness through a dreadful arrogancy; for that they 
went bac\ farther from Thee, the true Light that enlighteneth eucry 
man that cometh into ihe it/orld^'^ Take heed what you say, and 
blush for shame: draiv near unto Him and be enlightened, and yotcr 
facet shatl not be ashamcd-^^ Myself when I was deliberating upon 
the serving the Lord my Cod now, ;is I had long purposed, it wus I 
who willed. I who nilled, 1, I myself. \ neither willed entirely, nor 
nilled entirely. Thorefore was I at strife with myself, and rent 
asunder by myself. And this rent befell me against my will, and yci 
indic-ued, not the presence of another mind, but die punishment of 
my own. Therefore it was no more I that wrought it, but sin that 
dwell in tne;"" the }>unishmeni of a sin more freely commitiedj in that 
I was a son of Adam. 

For if there be so many contrary natures as there be conflicting 
wills, there shall now be not two only, but many. IE a man deliberate 
whether he should go to their conventicle or to the theatre, these 
Manichees cry out, Behold, here are two natures: one good, draws 
this way; another bad, draws back that way. For whence el^e is this 
hesitation between conflicting wills? But I say that both be bad: that 
which draws lo them, as that which draws back to the theatre. Hue 
they believe not that will to be other than good, which draws to 
them. What then if one of us should deliberate, and amid the strife 
of his two wills he in 3 siraitj whether he should go to the theatre 
or to our church? would not these Manichees also be in a strait what 
to answer? For either they must confess (which they fain would 
not) that the will which leads to our church is good, as well as theirs, 

«Pi. iKviii, J «riT. i, TO, *^Eph, V. &. 
**Jtthn i, 'J- "Ps, ^Kniv. 5, *'Roin. vii. A?. 



i 



THE CONFESSIONS OP ST. AUGUSTINE 3:33 

who have received and are held by the mystmes of theirs: or chey 
must suppose two evil natures, and two evil souls conflicUog in one 
man, and it will not be true, which they say^ that there is one good 
and another bad; or ihey must be converted to the truth, and no 
more deny that wliere one deliberiites, one soul fluctuates between 
contrary wills. 

Let them no more say then, when they perceive t^vo conflicting 
wills in one man, ih^t the conflict is beiween two contrary souls, o£ 
two contrary subslances, from t\^'o contrary principles, one good, 
and ihe other bjd. For Thou, O iriie God, dost disprove, check, 
and convicl them; as when, both wilU being bad, one deliberates 
whether he should kill a man f>y poison or by the svord; whether 
he should seize ihis or thiH est,i[e o£ anoiher*s, when he cannoL boih^ 
whether he should purchase pleasure bv luxury, or keep his money 
by coveiousne5s; whether he go to ihe circus or the theatre, if both be 
open on one day; or thirdly, to rob another*s house, if he have the 
opportunity; or, fourthly, to commit adultery, if ^it the same time he 
have the means thereof nTso; all these meciing Eogether in the same 
juncture of time, and all being equally desired, which cannot at one 
time be jtcted: for ihey rend the mind amid four, or even (amid the 
vast variety of things desired) more, conflicting wiUs, not do they 
yet allege that there are so many divers substances. So also in wills 
which are good. For 1 ask them, is it good to take pleasure in reading 
the Apostle? or good to take pkar.ure in a sober Psalm? or good to 
discourse on the Gospel? They will answer to each, "It is good." 
What then if all give equal pleasure, and all at once? Do not divers 
wills discracc the mind, while he deliberates which he should rather 
choose? yet are they all good, and are at vari.incc lill one be chosen, 
whither the one entire will may be borne, which before was divided 
into many. Thus also, when, above, eternity delights us, and the 
pleasure of temporal good holds us down below, it: is the same soul 
which willeih not this or that with an entire will; and therefore is 
rent asunder with grievous perplexities, while out of truth it sets 
this first, but out of habit sets not thill aside. 

Thus soul-sick was I, and tormented, accusing myself much more 
severely than my wont, rolling and turning me in my chain, till 
that were wholly broken, whereby 1 now ivas but just, but still ^va£, 



1 

i 



134 '^^^ CONFESSIONS OP ST. AUGUSTINE 

held. And Thou^ O Lord* prcssci^st upnn me in my inward p^ris 
by n severe mercy, retloubling the lashes of fe^ir and shame, lest I 
should iigiiin give way, and noi: bursiing rh^t .^jme shght remaining 
lie> i[ should recover strength^ and bind me the fasier. For 1 said 
within myself, "lie i( done now, be it done now," and as 1 spake, 1 
;d! hut enacted it; 1 afl but did it, and did if noi: yel sunk not back 
to niy former slate, but kept my stand hard by, and took breath. 
And I essayed again, and wanted somewhat less of it, and some- 
what less, and atl but touched, and laid hold of it; and yet came not 
at it, nor touched nor laid hold o£ it; hesitating to die lo death and 
to live to life: nnd the worse whereto I was inured, prevailed more 
with me than the bciicr whereto I was unused : and the very moment 
wherein I was to become other than I was, the nearer it approached 
me, the greater horror did it strike into me; yel did it not strike me 
back, nor turned me away, but held me in suspense. 

The very toys of toys, and vanities of vanities, my ancient mis- 
tresses, still held me; they plucked my fleshly garment, and whis- 
pered softly, "Dost thou cast us off? and from that moment shall we 
no more be with thee for ever? and from that moment shall not this 
or that be lawful for thee for ever?" And what xvas Jt which they 
suggested in that 1 ssaid, "this or that,'* what did they suggest, O my 
God? Let Thy mercy turn it away from the soul of Thy servant. 
What defilements did [hey suggestl what shamel And now 1 much 
less than halt heard them, and not openly showing themselves and 
contradicting me, but muttering as it were behind my back, and 
privily plucking me, as 1 was departing, but to look back on them. 
Yet they did retard me, so that I hesitated to burst and shake myself 
free from them, and to spring over whither I was called; a vio- 
lent habit saying to me, "Thinkest thou, thou canst live without 
[hem?^* 

But now it spake very faintly. For on that side whither 1 had set 
my face, and whither i trembled to go, there appeared unto me the 
chaste dignity of Continency, serene, yet not re I axed ly, gay, honesdy 
alluring me to come and doubt not; and stretching forth lo receive 
and embrace me, her holy hands full of muhitudes of good examples: 
there were so many young men and maidens here, a multitude of 
youth and every age, grave widows and aged virgins; and Conti- 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 135 

rieoce herself in all, aoc barren, but a jruitjid mother of children of 
joj's, by Thee her Huiband, O Lord. And she smiled on me ivuh a 
persuysLve mockery, as would she say, "Can^l noi thou what ihese 
youths, what these maideiis can? or can they either fn themselveSj 
and nor rather in the Lord their God? The Lord [heir God gave 
me unto them. Why standesl ihou in thyself, and so siande^t not? 
cast thyself upon Him, fear not He will not whhdraw Himself ihac 
thou ahouldest £all; cast thyself fearlessly upon Him, He will receive, 
and will heal ihee." And 1 blushed exceedingly, for ihat 1 yet heard 
the muttering of those toys, and hung in suspense. And she again 
seemed to say, *'Stop thine ears against those thy unclean members on 
the earth, that they may be Trtortijied, They tell thee of delights, but 
not as doth the lam of the Lord ihy God.""^ This controversy in my 
heart was self against self only- But Alypius sifting close by my side, 
jn silence waited the issue of my unwonted emotion. 

Bur when a deep consideration had from the secret bottom of my 
soul drawn together and heaped up all my misery in the sight of my 
heart; there arose a mighty storm, bringing a mighty shower of tears. 
Which that I might pour forth wholly, in its natural expressions, I 
rose from Alypius; solitude was suggested to me as fitter for the 
business of weeping; so I retired so far that even his presence could 
not be a burden to mc. Thus was it then with me, and he perceived 
something of it; for something 1 suppose 1 had spoken, wherein the 
cones of my voice appeared choked with weeping, and so had risen 
up. He then remained where we were sitting, most extremely aston- 
ished, 1 cast myself down I know not how, under a certain fig-tree, 
giving full vent to my te.^rs; and the floods of mine eyes gushed out 
an acceptable sacrifice to Thee. And* not indeed in these words* yet 
to this purpose, spake t much unto Thee: and Thou, O Lord, hotr/ 
long? how long. Lord, milt Thou be angry, for ever?"^ Remember 
not our former i?iiquitics" for 1 feit that I w,fs held hy tliem. I sent 
up these sorrowful words: How long, how longj "to-morrow, and 
to-morrow?" Why not now? why not is there this hour an end 
to my uncleanness? 

So was I speaking and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my 
heart, when, lo! I heard from a neighbouring house a voicCj as of 
^"Ps, fix. fi5- 0[(l Vcr, "pj ^i ^ laps. i^^}^. 5. g. 



136 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

boy or girl, 1 know not, chanting, and oft repeating, "Take up and 
read; Take up and read." Instantly, my countenance altered, 1 be- 
gan to think most intently wheEher children were woni in any kind 
of play to sing such words: nor could I remember ever to have heard 
the like. So checking [he torrent of my tears, I arose; interpreting 
it to be no other than a command from God to open ihe book^ and 
read the first chyptet I should find. For I had heard o£ Antony, 
that coming in during the reading of the Gospel, he received die 
admonition, as if what was being read was spoken lo him; Go, sell 
all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shah kavs treasure 
in heaven, and corns and foUotf me:^^ and by such orade he was 
forthwith converted unto Thee. Eagerly then I returned to the place 
where ATyprus was sitring; for there had I laid the volume of the 
Apostle when I arose ihcnce. 1 seized, opened, and in silence read 
that section on which my eyes first fell: Not in noting and drunken- 
ness, not in chambering and wtinlonncss, not in strife and envying; 
but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the 
Pcsh^ in concupiscence. No further would 1 read^ nor needed I; for 
instandy at the end of this sentence, by a light as it were of serenity 
infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt vanished away. 

Then putting my finger between, or some other mark, I shut the 
volume, and wilh a calmed countenance made it known to Alypius. 
And what was wrought in him, which I knew not, he thus showed 
me. He a^ked to see what 1 had read: I showed him; and he looked 
even further than 1 had read, and 1 knew not what followed. This 
followed, iiim that is iveai( in the faith, receive;^ which he applied 
to himself, and disclosed to me. And by this admonition was he 
strengthened; and by a good resolution and purpose, and most cor- 
responding to his character, wherein he did always very far differ 
from me, for the better, without any turbulent delay he joined me. 
Thence we go in to my mother; we tell her; she rejoiceth: we relate 
in order how it took place; she leaps for joy, and triumpheth, and 
blessed Thee, Who art able to do tibove that which we ask, or thin\?^ 
for she percc-ived that Thou hadst given her more for me, than she 
was wont to beg by her pitiful and most sorrowful groanings. For 
thou convertedst me unio Thyself, so that 1 sought neither wife, 
**Mjie. xix- 21. "Rom, Kiii. 13, \f^. ^^ Rom. Aiv. 1. ^'Eph. uL aO. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE 13^ 

nor sny hope of this world, standing in that rufe of faidi, wWe 
Thou hadst showed mc unto her in a vision, so many years before. 
And Thou didst conuert her jnourning into joy^ much more plenti- 
ful than she had desired, and in a much more precious and purer 
way than she ersi required, by having grandchildren of my body. 



^ 

i. 



THE NINTH BOOK 

Augusline determines to devote his life to God, and to alMntion his pro- 
fession of Rhetoric, quietly however; retires ro iht' caunlry to pre- 
pare himself to receive the grace of Baptism, and is baptised with 
Alypiu^» and hi$ son Adeodaius, At Ostia, in his way to Atrica, his 
jTiothei Monnica dies* in her Jifiy-sixth year, the ihirty-i:bird of 
Augusiine. Her life and char;icter, 

^'^ LORD. I am Thy stT^ant: I am Thy servant, and the son 
r J o/ Thy handmaid. Thou hast brol{sn my bonds in Hinder. 
\^ I will offer to 7'hec the sacrifice- of praise.^ Let my heart 
iind my tongue praise Thee; yea, let ail my bones say, Lord, who 
is lii^e unto Thee? Let them say^ and answer Thou me, and say 
itnto my soul, I am thy salvation?' Who am 1» and what am I? 
What evil have not been either my deeds, or if not my deeds* my 
words, or if not my words, my willP But Thou, O Lord, art good 
and merciful, and Thy right hand had respect unto the deplh of my 
deaih, and from fhe bottom of my heart emptied that abyss of cor- 
ruption. And this Thy whole gift was, to nill what 1 willedi and to 
wiU what Thou wilkdst. But where through all those years, and 
our of wliat low and deep recess was my free-will called forth in a 
moment, whereby to stjbmil my neck to Thy easy yo^e.^ and my 
ihotilders unto Thy Ught burden, O Chrnt Jesus, my Helper and my 
Redeemer?* How sweei did it at once become to me, lo want the 
sweetness of rhose toys! and what I feared lo be parted from, was 
now a joy to part with. For Thou didst cast them forth from Jiie, 
Thou true and highest svL'eetness- Thou casrest them forth, and for 
ihem enteredst in Thyself, sweeter than all pleasure, though not to 
flesh and blood; brighter than all light, but mote hidden than all 
depths, higher fhan all honour, but not to the high in their own con- 
ceits. Now was my soul free from the biting cares of canvassing 
and getting, jnd weltering m filth, and scratching off the itch of 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE I39 

lust. And niy inf.int tongue sp^kc freely to 'Thee, my briglititess, 
and my riches^ and my hcahh, ihe Lord my God, 

And I resolved in Thy sjyht, not lumuimously to tear^ but gently 
10 u'iihdraw, the servict of iny tongue frum the marts o£ iip-bbnur: 
ihat [he young, no students in Thy la\v» nor in Thy peace, but in 
lying dotages and law-skirmishes, should no longer buy ai my mouth 
arms for their madnes:^. And very 5cason;fbly, it now wanted but 
very few days unto llie Vacation of the Viniagi;, aiid 1 resolved to 
endure them, then in a regular way to take my leave, and having been 
purchased by Thee, no more to return for sale. Our purpose then 
was known to Thee; but to men, other than our own friends, was 
it not known. For we had agreed among ourselves not to let it out 
abroad to any: although to us, now ascending from the iralltfy 0/ 
tears, and singhag [hat song of degrees. Thou hadst given sharp 
arrows, and destroying cuds againsC the subtle tongue, which a^ 
though advising for us, would ihwaT[, and would ouL of love devour 
us, as it doth its meat. 

Thou hadst pierced our hearts wiih Thy charity, and we carried 
Thy words as it were fixed in our entrails: and the examples of Thy 
servants, whom for bbck Thou hadst made bright, and for dead, 
alive, being piled together in the receptacle of our thoughts, kindled 
and burned up that our heavy torpor, that we should not sink down 
to the abyss; and they fired us so vehemently, that all the blasts of 
stthlle tongues from gainsayers might only infiame us the more 
fiercely, not extinguish us- Never[helESS, because for Thy fame's 
sake which Thou hast hallowed throughout the earth, this our vow 
and purpose might also find some to commend it, it seemed like os- 
tentation not to wait for the vacation now so near, but to quit before- 
hand a public profession, which was before the eyes of all; so that, 
all looking on this act of mine, and observing how near was the time 
of vintage which I wished to anticipate^ would talk much of me, as 
if 1 had desired to appear some great one. And what end had it 
served me, that people should repute and dispute upon my purpose, 
and that our goad should Be et^il spok,en of? 

Moreover, it had at first troubled me that in this very summer 
my lungs began 10 give way, amid too great literary labour, and to 

'Rom, yX-v. 16- 



140 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

breaiKe c!eep]y with difliculry and by the pain in my chest to show 
that they were injured, and to refuse any full or lengthened speak- 
ing; this had troubled me, for it almost constrained me of necessity 
to lay down that burden o£ teaching, or^ if I could be cured and re- 
cover, at least to iniermir it. But when the full wish for leisure, 
fhat I might see hoiir that Thou art the Lord^ arose, and was fixed, 
in me; my God, Thou knowesr, 1 began even to tejoice that I hiid 
this secondary, and that no feigned, excuse, which might something 
moderate die offence taken by tho&e who, for itieir sons' sake, wished 
me never to have the freedom of Thy sons. Full then of such joy, 
I endured till that interval of time were run; it may have been some 
twenty days, yet ihey were endured manfully; endured, for the 
cnvetousness which aforetime bore a part of this heavy business, had 
left me, and I remained alone, and had been overwhelmed, had not 
patience taken its pTace. Perchance, some of Thy servanls, my breth- 
ren, may say that I sinned in ihis, that with a heart fully set on Thy 
service, 1 suffered myself to sit even one hour in the chair of lies. 
Nor would I be contentious. But hast not Thou, O most merciful 
Loid, pardoned and remitted this sin also, with my other most 
horrible and deadly sinsj in the ho!y water? 

Verecundus was worn down wiih care about this our blessedness, 
for that being held back by bonds, whereby he was most straidy 
bound, he saw that he should be severed from us. For himself was 
not yet a Christian, his wife one of the faithful; and yet hereby, 
more rigidly than by any other chain, was he let and hindered from 
the journey which we had now essayed. For he would not, he said, 
be a Christian on any other terms than on those he could not. How- 
ever, he offered us courteously to remain at his country-bouse so 
long as we should slay there- Thou, O Lord, shalt reward him in ths 
reiuTTection of the just] seeing Thou hast already given him the lot 
of the righteous.' For although in our absence, being now at Rome, 
he was seized with bodily sickness^ and therein being made a Chris- 
tian, and one of the faithful, he departed this life; yet hadst Thou 
mercy not on him only, but on us fl/jo;*lest remembering the exceed- 
ing kindness of otu' friend towards us, yet unable to number him 
among Thy flock, we should be agonised with intolerable sorrow. 

"Ps. dvi. 10. 'Ltikc xiv. 14. 'Pi. cxuv. j. *PhiL ii. 17, 



THE CONFESSIOMS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 14! 

Thanks umoThcc, ourGod^weare Thine: Thy suggestions and con- 
solarions tdl uSj Faiih£ul in promises, Thou now requitcst Verecun- 
du:^ for his country-house of Caisiacum, where from the fever of the 
world we reposed in Thee, with the eternal freshness o:E Thy Para- 
dise: for thatThou hast forgiven him his sins upon earth, in thyt rich 
mounEainj that mountain which yieldeth milk, Thine own mountain. 
He then had at (hat time sorrow, but Nebridius joy. For ahhough 
he also, not being yet a Christian, had falfen into the pit of that most 
pernicious error, biilieving the £esh of Thy Son to be a phiintom; yet 
emerging thence, he beheved as we did; not as yet endued with any 
Sacraments of Thy Church, but a most ardent searcher out of truth. 
Whom, not long after our conversion and regeneration by Thy 
Baptism, being also a faithful member of the Church Catholic, and 
serving Thee in perfect chastity and continence amongst his people 
in Africa, his whole house having through him first been made 
Christian, didst Thou release from the flesh; and now he lives in 
Abraham's bosom. Whatever that be, which is signified by that 
bosom, there lives my Nebridins. my sweet friend, and Thy child, O 
Lord, adopted of a freed man: there he liveth- For what other place 
is there for such a soul? There he Uveth, whereof he aiked much of 
me, a poor inexperienced man. Now lays he not his ear to my mouth, 
but his spiritual mouth unto Thy fountain, and drinketh as much 
as he can receive, wisdom in proportion to his thirst, endlessly 
happy. Nor do I think that he is so inebriated therewith, as tu forget 
me; seeing Thou, Lord, Whom he drinketh, art mindful of us. So 
were we then, comforting Verecundus, who sorrowed, as far as 
friendship permitted, that our conversion was oi^ such sort; and 
exhorting him to become faithful, according to his measure, namely, 
of a married estate; and awaiting Nebridius to follow us, which, 
being so near, he was all but doing; and so, lol those days rolled by 
at length; for long and many they seemed, for the love 1 bare to the 
easeful liberty, chat 1 might sing to Thee from my inmost marrow. 
My heart hath said unto Thee, I hai/e sought Thy face: Thy jace. 
Lord, wilt i seek.}" - - - - ^ 

•- Now was the day come wherein I was in deed to be freed of my 

t Rhetoric Professorship, whereof in thought I was already freed. And 



142 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

it was done. Thou didst rescue my toogue, whence Thou hadst 
before rescued my heari:. And 1 blessed Thee» rejoicingi reiiring 
willi all mine to the villa. What I there did in wridng^ which was 
now enlisted in Thy service, diough sliili in this brej.[hing-rime as it 
were^ panting frum ihe school oi pride, my books may witness, as 
well what I debated with oiherSj as what with myself alone> before 
Thee: what witli Nebridiiis, who was absent, my lipisiles bear wit- 
ness. AntT when shall I have time to rehearse all Thy great benefits 
towards us at ihat time, especially when hasting on to yet greater 
mercies? For my remembrance recalls me, and pleasant is it to me, 
O Lord, 10 confess lo Thee, by what inward goads Thou tamedst me; 
and how Thou hast evened me, lowei'ing the njoantains and hiUs 
of my high iniaginaiions, straightening my crool^edn^s^, and smooth- 
ing my rotigk ways; and how Thou also subduest the brother of my 
heart, Alypius, unto the Name of Thy Only Begotten, our Lord and 
Saviour Jesus ChrUt, which he would not at first vouchsafe to have 
inserted in our writings. For rather would he have them savour of 
the lofty cedars of the Schools, which the Lord hath now broken 
down^^ than of the wholesome herbs of the Church, the antidote 
against serpents. 

Oh, in what accents spake I unto Thee, my God, ivhen I read the 
Psalms of David, those f:iithful songs, and sounds of devotion, which 
allow of no swelling spirit, as yet a Catechtmien^ and a novice in 
Thy real love, resting in that villa, with Alypius a Catechumen, my 
mother cleaving to us, in female garb with masculine faith, with 
the tranquillity of age, motherly love. Christian pietyl Oh, what 
accents did 1 utter unto Thee in those Psalms, and how was 1 by 
them kindled towards Thee, and on fire to rehearse them, if possible, 
through the whole world, against the pride of mankind! And yet 
they are sung dirough die whole world, nor can any hide hijnself 
from Thy heat^ With what vehement and bitter sorrow was 1 
angered at the Manicheesl and again 1 pitied them for that they 
knew not tliose Sacraments, those medicines, and were mad against 
the antidote which might have recovered rhem of their madness. 
How 1 would they had then been somewhere near me, and without 

"Ps. xMx. 5. "Ps, xix. 6. 



1 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE T43 

my knowing that ihey were there» could have beheld my courne- 
naoce* and heard my words^ when I read the fourth Psalm m ch^i 
time o£ my re^c, and how that Psalm wroughi upon me, When I 
cdied, ihe God of my righteousness hsard me; in tribidation Thou 
enJaygedst me. Hai/e niercy upon me, O Lard, and hear my prayei: 
Would that whar 1 uttered on these words, they could hear^ with- 
out my knowing whether they hentd, lest they should think. 1 spake 
it for their sakesl Because in truth neither should 1 speak the same 
ihfngs, nor in the sanie way, i£ I perceived that they heard and 
saw me; nor if I spake them would they so receive them, as when I 
spake by and for myself before Thee, out of the natural feelings of 
my souh 

I trembicd for fear, and again kindled with hope, and with rejoic- 
ing in Thy mercy, O Father; and all issued forth both by mine eyes 
and voice, when Thy good Spirit turning unto us, said, O ye sons of 
men, how long slow of heart? why do ye love vanity, and see^ after 
leaiing?'^ For I had heed vanity, and sought after leasing}^ And 
Thou, Lord, hadst already magnified Thy Holy One, raising Him 
from the dead, end setting Him at Thy right hand,"' ^W^nCf^ from ow 
high He should setid His promise, the Comforter, the Spirit of 
truth'' And He had already sent Him, but 1 i^new it not; He had 
sent Him, because He was now magnified, rising again from the 
dead, and ascending inio heaven.'^ For till then, the Spirit u/as not 
yet given, because jesus was not yet glorified}'' And the prophet 
cries out, How long, slow of heart? why da ye love vanity, and seel^^ 
after leasing? Know this, that the Lord hath magnified His Holy 
Oae^ He cries out, How long? He cries out. Know this: and £ so 
long, not knowing, loved vanity, and sought after leasing: and 
therefore I heard and trembled, because it was spoken unto such as 
I remembered myself to have been. For in those phantoms whicli I 
had held for truths, was there inanity and leasing; and 1 spake aloud 
many things earnestly and forcibly, in the bitterness of my remem- 
brance. Which would they had heard, who yet hi/e vanity and see^ 
after leaiingl They would perchance have been, troubled, and have 

"Pi- iv. I, Old Vi^Tz. 3*Ps, iv. a. Old Vors. '^ Vcr. 3. 
"Epb, i. JO, "Luke X-m. fl^; Jfhn x'vj. 16, 17, "Acts iL 1-4. 

■^JoiiD viib 39. 



144 '^^^ CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

vomited it up; and Thoit woutdest hear thsm nfhen they cried unto 
Thee; for by a true death in the flesh did He die for us, who now 
inti^rcedi-th unto Thee for ns-^ 

1 furiher read, Be angry, and sin not}^ And how was T moved, 

my God^ who had now learned to be angry at myself for things 
past, that I might not sin in lime to come! Ye,i, to be justly angry; for 
that it was not another nature o£ a people of darkness which sinned 
for me* as they say who are not angry at themselves, and treasure up 
wrath against the day of wrath, and of the revelation of Thy just 
jiidgmcnf." Nor were my good things now wiihouC, nor nought 
with the eyes of flesh in that earthly sun^ for they that would have 
joy from without soon become vain, and waste themselves on the 
things seen and temporal* iind in their famished thoughts do lick 
their very shadows. Oh that they were wearied out with their fam- 
ine, and said, Who will show us good things?'^ And we would say, 
and they hear, T/ie light of Thy countenance is sealed upon us?* 
For we are not that light which enlightencih every man,^ but we are 
enlightened by Thee; that having been sometimes dar\ness, we may 
be light in Thee}^ Oh that ihcy could see the eternal Internal, which 
having tasted, I was grieved thai I could not show It them, so long 
as they brought me their heart in their eyes roving abroad from Thee, 
while they said, Who luiil show us good things?'^ For there, where 

1 was angry within myself in my chamber, where I was inwardly 
pricked, where 1 had sacrificed, slaying my old man and commencing 
[he purpose of a new life, putting my trust in Thee,^ — there hadst 
Thou begun to grow sweet unio mo, and hud.ft put gladness in my 
hearth And T cried out, as 1 read this outwardly, finding it inwardly. 
Nor would I be multiplied with worldly goods; wasting away time, 
and wasted by time; whereas I had in Thy eternal Simple Essence 
other cam, and wijje. and oil. 

And with a loud cry of my heart 1 cried out in the next verse, O 
in peace, O for The Self-samel O what said he, / will lay me down 
and sleeps for who shall hinder us, when Cometh to pass that say- 
ing which it written. Death is swallou/ed up in victory?" And Thou 
surpassingly are the Self-same, Who art not changed; and in Thee is 

rest which forgetleth all toil, for there is none other with Thee, nor 

^Rom. vili, M- ^> Eph. iv. 3&. "Rom. li. 5. =3pi. iv. 6. ^*lbsd. 

»Jahn 3, p. '^Eph. v. 8. "Pa- iv. 6, '* Vcr. 5. 

^Ps. W. 7. "Ver. S. ^'l Cor. xv. 54- 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE T45 

are we to seek those many other ihings, which are not what Thou 
art: but Thou Lord, alone ha&t made ms dwell in hope-. I read, and 
kindled; nor found I what to do to those deaf and dead, of whom, 
mysctf had been, a pestileni person, a bitter and a blind bawler 
against those writings^ which arc honied with die honey of heaven, 
and hgbtsome with Thine own light: and 1 was consumed with zeal 
at rhe enemies of this Sci ipture. 

When shall I recall all which passed in those holy-days? Yet 
neither have I forgoiicn, nor will 1 pa^s over the severity of Thy 
scourge, and the wonderful swiftness of Thy mercy. Thou didst then 
torment me with pain in my teeth; which when it had come to such 
height thac 1 could not speak, it came into my heart Co desire all my 
friends present to pray for me to Thee, the God of all manner of 
liealth. And [his I wrote on wax, and gave it to them to read. Pres- 
ently so soon as with humble devotion we had bowed our knees, 
that pain went away. But what painP or how went it away? 1 was 
aiTrighted, O my Lord, my God, for from infancy I had never expe- 
rienced the like. And the power of Thy Nod was deeply conveyed 
to me, and rejoicing in faith, I praised Thy Name. And that faith 
suffered me not to be at ease about my past sins, which were not yet 
forgiven me by Thy baptism. 

The vintage-vacation ended, I gave notice to the Milanese to pro- 
vide their scholars with another master to sell words to tlicm; for that 
1 had both made choice to serve Thee, and through my difficulty of 
breathing and pain in my chest was not equal to the Professorship. 
And by letters 1 signified to Thy Pcelate, the holy man Ambrose, 
my former errors and present desires, begging his advice what of 
Thy Scriptures I had besc read, to become readier and fitter for 
receiving so great grace. He recommended Isaiah the Prophet; T 
believe, because he above the rest is a more clear fore-shower of the 
Gospel and of the calling of the Gentiles, But I, not understand- 
ing the first lesson in him, and imagining the whole to be like itj 
[ laid it by, to be resumed when better practised in our Lord's own. 
words. 

Thence, when the time was come wherein 1 was to give in my 

name, wc left the country and returned to Milan. It pleased Alypius 

aJso to be with me born again in Thee, being alre^idy clothed with the 

ihumilicy befitting Thy Sacraments; and a most valiant tamer of the 



146 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE 

body, so as^ with unwonred venture, to we^r [he frozen grunnd of 
Italy with his bare feet. We joined with us the boy Adeodaius^ born 
after rliH flesli oi my sin, Excelienrly hadst Thou made him. He 
was not quite fifteen, and in wit surpassed many grave and learned 
men. I tonfcsa unto Thee Thy gifrs, O Lord my God, Creator of all, 
and abundantly able to rel:orm oar deformities: for I had no part in 
that boy, but the sin. For that we brought him up in Thy discipline, 
it was Tlioii^ none else, h-id inspired us with it. I confess unto Thee 
Thy gifts. There is a book of ours cntidcd The Master; it is a dia- 
logue between him and me. Thou knowest that all there ascribed 
to the per^n conversing with me were his tdeas, in his sixteenth 
year. Much besidt^s, and yer more aclmirablei 1 found in him. That 
talent struck awe into me. And who but Thou could be the work- 
masFer of such wonders? Soon didst Thou take his life from the 
earEh: and I now remember him wiihout anxiety, fearing nothing for 
his childhood or youth, or his whole self. Him we joined with us, our 
contemporary in grace, to be brought up in Thy discipline; and we 
were baptised, and anxiety for our past life vanished from us. Nor 
was I saied in those days with the wondrous sweetness of consider- 
ing ihe depth of Thy counsels concerning the salvation of mankind. 
How did I wcep^ in Thy Hymns and Canticles, touched to the quick 
by the voices of Thy sweet-attuned Church! The voices flowed into 
mine ears^ and the Truth distilled into my heart, whence the affec- 
tions of my devotion overflowed, and tears ran down, and happy 
was 1 therein. 

Not long had the Church of Milan begun to use this kind of con^ 
solation and exhortation, the brethren zealously joining with har- 
mony of voice and hearts. For it was a year, or not mucli more, that 
Justina, mother to the Emperor Valentinian, a child, persecuted Thy 
servant Ambrose, in favour of her heresy, to which she was seduced 
by the Arians. The devout people kept watch in the Church, ready 
to die with their Bishop Thy servant. There my mother Thy hand- 
maid, bearing a chief part of those anxieties and watchings, lived 
for prayer. We, yet unwarmed by the heat of Thy Spirit^ still were 
stirred up by the sight of the amazed and disquieted city. Then ic 
was first instituted that after the manner of the Eastern Churches, 

Hymns and Psalms sliould be sung, lest \h^ people should wax faint 

i 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AOGtISTlNE Z47 

through rhe lediousness o£ sorrow: and from that day to this the 
custom is retained^ divers (yea, ahnosE all) Thy congregations, 
throughoiit oth<^r parts of the world, following herein. 

Then didst Thou by a vision discover to Thy Eorcnamed Bishop 
where Ehe bodies of Gervasius and Protasius the martyrs lay hid 
(whom Thou hadst in Thy secret treasury stored uncorrupted so 
many years), whence Thou mighiesi ieasonably jjroduce them to 
repress the fury of a woman^ hut an Empress, For when (hey were 
discovered and dug up, and with due honour translated to the 
Ambrosian basilica, not only Ehey who were ve^ed with unclean 
spirits (the devils confessing themselves) were cured, but a certain 
man who had for mnny years been blind, a citizen, and well known 
to the city, asking and hearing the reason of the people's confused 
joy, sprang forth^ desiring his guide to lead him thither. Led thither^ 
he begged to be allowed 10 toucli with his handk(?rchief the bier of 
Thy mints, iwhose dsatb a precious in Thy sight?' Which when he 
had done, and put to his eyes, they were fortliwith opened- Thence 
did the £anic spread, thence Thy praises glowed, shone; [hence the 
mind of that enemy, though not turned to the soundness o£ believ- 
ing, was yet turned back trom her fury of persecuting. Thanks to 
Thee, O my God. Whence and whicher hast Thou thus led my 
remembrance, that I should confess these things also unto Thee? 
which great thotigh they be» I had passed by in forgetfulness. And 
yet then, when the odour of Thy ointments mas so fragrant, did we 
not rtin after Thee.^ Therefore did 1 more weep among the singing 
of Thy Hymns, formerly sighing after Thee, and at length breathing 
m Thee, as far as the breath may enter into this our house of grass. 

Tliou that iiiaf{eil men to dwctl of one mi7}d in one housef^ didst 
join with us Euodius also, a young man of our own city. Who being 
an ofiicer of Court, was before us converted to Thee and baptised: 
and quitting his secular warfare, girded himself to Thine. We were 
together, about to dwell together in our devout purpose. We sought 
where we might serve Thee most usefully, and were together return- 
ing to Africa: whitherward being as far as Ostia, my mother departed 
this life. Much 1 omir, as hastening much. Receive my confessions 
and thanksgivings, O my God, for innumerable things whereof 1 

^^Ps.civL. 15. "Cam. \. a, 3. '^ Ps. Ixviii, G- 



I4S THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

am Silent. But I will not omit whatsoever my soul would bring 
£oF[|] concerning ihat Thy handmaid, who brought me forth, both in 
the fleshy that 1 might be born to this temporal light, and in heart, 
that I might be b[>rn to Light eternal. Not her gifts, but Thine in 
her, would I speak of; for neither did she make nor educate herself. 
Thou created St her; nor did her father and mother know what a one 
should come from ihcm. And the sceptre of Thy Chrisr^ the disci- 
pline of Thine only Son, in a Christian hou'ie^ a good member of 
Thy Church, educated her in Thy fear. Yet for her good discipline 
was she wont to commend not so much her mother's diligence, as 
ihac of a certain decrepit maid-servant, who had carried her father 
when a chitd, as licde oneij used to be carried at the hacks of elder 
girls. For which reason, and for her great age, and excellent con- 
versation, was she, in that Christian family, well respected by its 
headsp Whence also the charge o£ her mastcr^s daughters was en- 
trusted to her, to which she gave diligent heed, restraining them 
earnestly, when necessary, with a holy severity, and teaching them 
with a grave discretion. For, except at those hours wherein rhey 
were most temperately fed at their parents' (able, she would not 
siiiTer them, though parched with thirst, to drink even water; pre- 
venting an evil custom, and adding diis wholesome advicet *'Ye 
drink water now, because you have not wine in your power; but 
when you come to be married, and be made mistresses of cellars 
and cupboards, you will scorn water, hut the custom of drinking 
will abide," By this method of instruction, and llie authority she had, 
she refrained the greediness of childhood, and moulded their very 
fhirsf to such an excellent moderation that what tliey should not, 
that they would not. 

And yet (as Thy handmaid told me her son) there had crept upon 
her a Tovc oE wine. For when (as the manner was) she, as though 
a sober maiden, was bidden by her parents to draw wine out of 
the hogsheatl, holding the vessel under the opening, before she 
poured the wine into the flagon, she sipped a little with tlie tip of 
her lips; for more her instinctive feelings refused. For this she did, 
not out of any desire of drink, but out of the exuberance of youth, 
whereby, it boils over in mirthful freaks, which in youthful spirits 
are wont to be kej?t under by the gravity of their elders- And thus by 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE I49 

adding to that little, daily littles (for whoso despiseth little things 
shali jdt by Utile and litik^) she had fallen into such a habit as 
greedily to drink otl her little cup brim-fiill almost of wine. Where 
was then ihat discreet old womjiii and chaL her earnest counter- 
manding? Would aiighc avail against a secret disease, if Thy healing 
hand, O Lord, watched not over us? Father, mother, and governors 
absent, Thou present, who creaiedst, who calle^t, who also by those 
set over lis, workest something towards the salvation of our souls^ 
what didst Thou then, O my God? how didst Thon cure her? how 
heal her? didst Thou not out of another soul bring forih a hard and a 
sharp taunt, like a lancet out of Thy secret store, and with one touch 
remove all chat foul stuff? For a maid-servant with whom she used 
to go to the cellar* falling to words (as it happens) with her little 
mistress, when alone with her, taunted her with this fault, with most 
bitter insult, calling her wine-bibber. With which taunts she, stung 
to the quicks saw the foulness of her fault, and instantly condemned 
and forsook it. As flattering friends pervert, so reproachful enemies 
mostly correct. Yet not what by them Thou doest, but what them- 
selves purposed, dost Thou repay them. For she in her anger sought 
to vc>: her young mistress, nor to amend her; and did it in private, 
for that the time and place of the quarrel so found them; or lest 
herself also should have anger, for discovering it thus late. But Thou, 
Lord, Governor of all in heaven and earth, who lurnest to Thy 
purposes the deepest currents, and the ruled turbulence of the tide 
of times, didst by the very unheakhiness of one sou! heal another; 
lest any, when he observes (his, should ascribe it to his own power, 
even when another, whom he wished to be reformed, is reformed 
through words of his. 

Brought up thus modesdy and soberly, and made subject rather by 
Thee to her parents, than by her parents to Thee, so soon as she was 
of marriageable age, being bestowed upon a husband, she scr%'ed 
him as her lord; and did her diligence to win him unto Thee, preach- 
ing Thee unto him by her conversation; by which Thou orna- 
mentedst her, making her reverently amiable, and admirable unto 
her husband. And she so endured the wronging of her bed as never 
to have any quarrel with her husband thereon. For she looked for 



150 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

Thy mercy upon him, that believing in Thee, he might be made 
chaste. But besides this, he was fervid, as in his affections, so in 
unger: but she had iearnt no! to resist an angry husband, no( In deed 
only, hut not even in word. Only when he wa^ smoothed and tran- 
quil, and in a temper to receive if, she would give an account of her 
actions, if haply he had overhastily taken ofTence. In a word, while 
m;my matrons, who had milder husbands* yet bore even in their 
faces marks of shame, would in familiar talk hfame iheir husbands' 
Jives, she would blame their tongues, giving them, as in jesi, earnest 
advice: "That from the rime they heard the marriage writings read 
to them, they should account them as indentures* whereby they 
vi'ere made servants; and so. remembering their condition, ought not 
Eo set themselves up against their lords." And when they, know- 
ing what a choleric husband she endured, marvelled that it had 
never been heard* nor by any token perceived, that Pair id us had 
beaten his wife, or that there had been any domestic difference be- 
tween chem, even for one day, and confidentially asking the reason, 
she taught them her practice above mentioned. Those wives who 
observed it found the good, and returned thanks; those who observed 
it not, found no relief, and suffered. 

Her mother-in-law also, at first by whisperings of evil servants 
incensed against her. she so overcame by observance and persever- 
ing endurance and meekness, thar she of her own accord discovered 
to her son the meddling tongues whereby the domestic peace be- 
twixt her and her daughter-in-law had been disturbed* asking him 
to correct ihem. Then, when In compliance with his mother, and for 
the well-ordering of the family, and the harmony of its members, he 
had with stripes corrected those discovered, at her will who had 
discovered them, she promised the tike reward to any who, to please 
her, should speak ill of her daughter-in-law to her: and none now 
venturing, they lived togeiher with a remarkable sweetness of 
mutual kindness. 

^is great gift also Thou bestowedst, O my God, my mercy, upon 
that good handmaid of Thine, in whose womb Thou creaiedst me, 
that between any disagreeing and discordant parties where she was 
able, she showed herself such a peace-maker, that hearing on both 
sides most bitter things, such as swelling and indigested choler uses 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE I5I 

to break our mto, when the crudkies of enmities ate breathed out in 
sour discourses lo a present friend against an absent enemy, she 
never would disclose aughi of the one unto the other^ but what might 
tend to their reconcilement. A small good Ehis might appear to me, 
did I Jiot 10 my grief know numberless persons, who through some 
horrible and wide-sprejidmg contagion o£ sin, not only disclose to 
persons tnuiLially angered things said in anger, but add withal things 
never spoken, whereas to humane humanity, it ought to seem a light 
thing not to foment or increase ill will by ill words, unless one study 
withal by good words to quench it. Such was she, Thyself, her most 
inward Instructor, teaching her in the school o£ the heart. 

Finally, her own husband, towards the very end of his earthly life, 
did she gain unto Thee; nor had she to complain of that in him as a 
believer, which before he was a believer she had borne from him. 
She was also the servant of Thy servants; whosoever of them knew 
her, did in her much praise and honour and love Thee; for that 
through the witness of the fruits of a holy conversation they per- 
ceived Thy presence in her heart. For she had been th^ mje oj one 
tnan, had requited her parents, had goferncd hsr house piously, was 
wdt reported oj her good u/or^s, had brought up children^^ so often 
irauailing in hirth oj ihem^ as she saw them swerving from Thee. 
Lastly, of all of us Thy servants, O Lord (whom on occasion of 
Thy own gift Thou sullerest to speak), us> who before her sleeping 
in Thee hved united together, having received the grace of Thy 
baptism, did she so take care of, as though she had been mother of 
us all; 50 served us, as though she had been child to us all. 

The day now approaching whereon she was to depart this life 
(which day Thou well knewest, we knew not), it came lo pass. 
Thyself, as I believe, by Thy secret ways 50 ordering it, tliat she and 
I stood alone, leaning in a certain window, which looked into the 
garden of the house where we now lay, at Ostia; where removed 
from the din of men, we were recruiting from the fatigues of a long 
journey, for the voyage. Wc were discoursing then together, alone, 
very sweetly; and forgetting those things which are behind, and 
reaching forth unto those things n/hich are before^ we were en- 
quiring between ourselves in the presence of the Truth, which 
=^Tim, V. A. 9. 10 ^'Gai, iv. 19- ^Phil. iii. 13, 



152 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

Thou arf, of what son the eterna] life o£ ihe saints was to be, which 
eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hutft it entered into the heart 
of Ttian?^ Bui yeE we gasped wiih the mouth o£ our heart, after 
those heavenly streams of Thy fountain, the joiintaiTi oj life, whith 
is iuitA Thee;*° thai being bedewed thence according i;o our capaciiyi 
we might in some sort meditate upon so high a mystery. 

And when our djscour&e was brought to that pointj that ihe very 
highest ddight of the earthly sen&esj in the very purest material 
lijrhc* was, in respect of the sweetness of that life, not only not 
worthy of comparison, but uot even of mention; we raising up our- 
selves with a more glowing affection towards the "Self-same," did 
by degrees pass through all things bodily, even the very heaven 
whence sun and moon and stars shine upon the earth; yea, wc were 
soaring higher yet, by inward musing, and discourse, and admiring 
of Thy works; and we came to our own minds^ and went beyond 
them, that we might arrive at that region of never-failing plenty, 
where Thou feedest IsraeV* for ever with the food of truth, and 
where hfe is the Wisdorn by whom all these things are made, and 
what have been, and what shall be, and she is not made, but is, as 
she hath been, and so shall she he ever; yea rather, to "have been/* 
and "hereafter to be,^' are not in her, but only '\o be," seeing she is 
eternal. For to "have been," and to "be hereafter/* are not eternal. 
And while we were discoursing and panting after her, we slightly 
touched on her with the whole effort of our heart; and we sighed, 
and there we leave bound the first fruits of the Spirit;*' and returned 
to vocal expressions of our mouth, where the word spoken has be- 
ginning and end. And what is like unto Thy Word, our Lord, who 
endiireth in Himself without becoming old, jnd maketh all things 
neii'?*' 

We were saying then: If to any the tumult of the flesh were 
hushed, hushed the images of earth, and waters, and air, hushed also 
the poles of heaven, yea the very soul be hushed to herself, and by 
not thinking on self surmount self, hushed all dreams and im- 
aginary revelations, every tongue and every sign, and whatsoever 
exists only in transition, since if any could hear, all these say. We 
made not ourselves, but He made as that abideth for ever — If thea 
^' I Cijr. ii. g. *^P^. >;sxvi, 9, " Ps. Itxx. j, *'fioin. viii. iz. " Wisd. \\\. j?- 



I 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUCUSTIP^E I53 

having uttered this» they too should be hushed, having roused only 
our ears to Him who made them, and He alone speak, not by tbcm, 
buc by Himself, that we may heiir His Word, not through any 
tongue of fie^h^ nor Angelas voice, nor sound o( thunder, nor in the 
dark riddle of a siniihtudej but might hear Whom in these things 
we love, might hear His Very Self without these (as we two now 
strained ourselves, and in swift thought touched on that Eternal 
Wisdom which abideth over all): — could this be continued on, and 
other visions of kind far unlike be withdrawn, and this one ravish, 
and absorb, and wrap up its beholder amid these inward joys, so 
that life might be for ever like that one mornent of understanding 
which now we sighed after; u'ere noF this, Etiier into thy Master's 
joy?^* And when shall that be? When u^e shall dl rise again. 
though we shall no! all be changed?^ 

Such things was 1 speaking, and even lE not in ihis very manner, 
and these same words, yet Lord. Thou knowesr ihar in that day 
when we were speaking of these things, and this world with all its 
delights became, as we spake, contemptible to \i% my mother said, 
"Son, for mine own part I have no further delight in any thing in 
this life. What 1 do here any longer, and to what end I am here, 
I know not, now that my hopes in this world are accomplished. One 
thing there was for which 1 desired to linger for a while in this 
life, ihat 1 might see thee a Catholic Christian before 1 died. My 
God hath done this for me more abundantly, that I should now see 
thee withal, despising earthly happiness, become His servant: what 
do 1 here?" 

What answer I made her unto these things, T remember not. For 
scarce Rve days after, or not much more, she fell sick of a fever; and 
in that sickness one day she fell into a swoon, and was for a while 
withdrawn from these visible things. We hastened round her; but 
she was soon brought hack to her senses; and looking on me and 
my brother standing by her, said to us enquiringly, "Where was 
I?" And then looking fixedly on us, with grief amazed: "Here," 
saith she, "shall you bury your mother." I held my peace and re- 
frained weeping; but my brother spake something, wishing, for 
her, as the happier lot, that she might die» not in a strange place, 

** Mali. xi\. zi. ^j Cor. vy- 5J, — VuJg., etc. 



154 "^"E CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

bur in her own land. Where^ii, she wiih anxious look, checking him 
with her eyes^ for ihai he still suvottrcd such things, and nhcn look- 
ing upon me: ^^Bchold/' sailh she, "whan he saith:" and soon after 
to us both, ''Lay," she saith, "this body any where; lei not the care 
for that any way disquiet you: ihii only 1 rcquesti that yoa would 
remember me at the Lord's altar, wherever you be." And having de- 
livered this sentiment in what words she could she held her peace, 
being exercised by her growing sickness. 

But 1, considering Thy gifts, Thou unseen God, which Thou in- 
stillest into the hearts o£ Thy faithful ones, whence wondrous fruits 
do spring, did rejoice and give tJianks to Thee, recalling what I 
before knew, how careful and anxious she had ever been as to her 
place o£ burial, which she had provided and prepared for herself by 
the body of her husband. For because they had lived in great har- 
mony togetlicr, she also wished (so little can the hum^n mind em- 
brace things divine) to have this addition to that happiness, and 
to have it remembered among men, that afier her pilgrimage be- 
yond the seas, what was eaichly of [his united pair had been per- 
mitted to be united beneath the same earth. But when this empti- 
ness had through the fulness of Thy goodness begun to cease in her 
heart, I knew not, and rejoiced admiring what she had so disclosed 
to me; though indeed in that our discourse also in the window, 
when she said, "What do I here any longer.^" there appeared no 
desire of dying in her own country. I heard afterwards also, thai 
when we were now at Osria, she with a mother's confidence, when 
! was absent, one day discoursed with certain of my friends about 
the contempt of this life, and the blessing of death: and when they 
were amazed at such courage which Thou hadst given to a woman, 
and asked, '^Whether she were not afraid to leave her body so far 
from her own city.i^" she replied, '^Nothing is far to God; nor was 
it 10 be feaced lest at the end of the world, He should not recognise 
whence He were to raise me up." On the ninth day then of her 
sickness, and the fifty-sixth year oi her age, and the three-and- 
ihirtieth of mine, was Ehat religious and holy soul freed from the 
body. 

1 closed her eyes; and there flowed withal a mighty sorrow into 
my heart, which was overflowing into tears; mine eyes at the same 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE J55 

time, by the violent command of my mind* drank up their fountain 
wholly dry; and woe was me in sncli a strife! But when she breathed 
her last* the boy Adcndatus burst out into ^ loud lament; ihen^ 
checked by us al!» held his peace. In like manner also a childish 
feeling in me, which was, through my heart's youthful voice, finding 
its vent in weeping, W3S checked and silenced. For we thought it 
not fitnng to solemnise that funeral with tearful lament, and groan- 
ings; for thereby do [hey for [he most pari e>rpress grief for the de- 
parted, as [hough unhappy, or altogether dead; whereas she was 
neither unhappy in her death, nor ahoge[her dead. Of this we were 
j.ssnrcd on good grounds, the testimony o£ her good conversation 
and her fait/i UTijeigned, 

What then was it which did grievously pain me within, but a 
iresh wound wrought through the sudden wrench of [hat most 
sweet and dear custom of living together? I joyed irideed in her 
testimony, when, in that her last sickness, minghng her endear- 
ments W[[h my acts o£ du[y, she culled me "du[ifuk'' and mcn[ioned, 
with great alTeciion of love, that she never bad heard any harsli or 
reproachful sound nt[ered by my mouth against her. But yet, O my 
God, Who mades[ us, what comparison is there betwixt that honour 
that I paid to her, and her slavery for me? Being [hen forsaken of 
so great comfort in her, my soul was wounded, and that life rent 
asunder as it were, which, of hers and mine together, had been made 
but one. 

The boy then being stilled from weeping, Euodius took up the 
Psalter, and began lu sing, our whole house answering him, the 
Psalm, / will sing of mercy and judgment to Thee, Lord!*^ But 
hearing what we were doing, many brethren and religious women 
came together; and whilst they (whose office it was) made ready 
for the burial, as the manner is, I (in a pan of the house, where 1 
might properly), toge[her with those who thought not fit to leave 
me, discoursed upon something ii[[ing the time; and by this halm 
of truth assuaged that torment, known lo Thee, they unknowing 
and bs[ening intendy, and conceiving me to be without all sense 
of sorrow. BuL In Thy ears, where none of them heard, 1 blamed 
the weakness of my feelings, and refrained my ilood of grief, which 

*6 Pb. ci. 



156 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

gave way a liide umo mc; but again came, as with a tide, yet not 
so as to burst out into tears, nor to a change of countenance; still I 
knew what I was keeping down in my heart. And being very much 
displeased that these human things had such power over me, which 
in the due order and appointment o£ our natural condition must 
needs come to pass, with a new grief I grieved for my grief, and 
was thus worn by a double sorrow. 

And behold, the corpse was carried to the burial; we went and 
returned without te^ra. For neither in those prayers which we 
poured forth unto Thee, when the Sacrifice of our random was 
ollered for lier, when now the corpse was by the grave's side, as the 
manner there is, previous to its being laid therein, did I weep even 
during those prayers; yet was I the whole day in secret heavily sad, 
and with troubled mind prayed Thee, as T could, to heal my sorrow, 
yet Thou didst noi\ impressing^ I believe, upon my memory by 
this one instance, how strong is the bond of all habit, even upon a 
soul, which tiow feeds upon no deceiving Word. It seemed also 
good to me 10 go and bathe, having heard that the bath had its 
name (balneum) from the Greek ^aXcwtor-, for that it drives sadness 
from the mind. And this also I confess unto Thy mercy, Father of 
the jathcyh'ss." that 1 bathed, and was the same as before I bathed. 
For the bitterness of sorrow could not exude out of my heart. Then 
I slept, and woke up again, and found my grief not a little softened; 
and as 1 was alone in my bed, 1 remembered those true verses of 
Thy Ambrose, For Thou art the 

"Makerof all, the Lord, 
And Ruler of the height. 
Who, robing day in light, hast poured 
Soft slumbers o'er the ni^ht, 

'That 10 OUT limbs the power 
Of toil may be renew 'd. 
And hearts he rais'd thai sink and cower. 
And sflrrows be subdu'd." 

And then by little and little 1 recovered my former thoughts of 
Thy handmaid, her holy conversation towards Thee, her holy ten- 

*'Pi. Ixi'iii. 5. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. ATJGUSTTNE I57 

derness and observance towards us, whereof 1 was suddenly de- 
prived: and I was minded to weep in Thy sighi^ for her and foe 
irjyseJf, in her behalf and in my own. And 1 gave way Xo ihe tears 
which I before restrained, to overflow as much as thi^y desireJ; re- 
posing my heart upon them; and it found rest in thcm^ for it was 
in Thy ears not in those of man, who would have scornfully inter- 
preted my weeping. And now* Lord, in writing 1 confess it unto 
Thee. Read it, who will^ and interpret it, how he wilh and if he 
finds sin therein^ ihai 1 wept my mother for a small portion of an 
hour (the mother who for the lime was dead 10 mine eyes, who 
had for many years wept for me diat 1 mi^hc live in Thine eyes), 
let him not deride me; but rather, if he be one of large charity, 
let him weep himself for my sins unto Thee, the Father of all the 
brethren of Thy Christ, 

But now, with a heart cured of that wound, wherein ir might 
seem blameworthy for an earthly feeling, 1 pour out unto Thee, our 
God, in behalf of that Thy handmaid, a far didcrent kind of tears, 
flowing from a spirit shaken by [he thoughts of the dangers of 
every soul thai disth in Adum*^ And although she having been 
quickened in Christ, even before her release from the (lesh, had 
lived to the praise of Thy name for her faith and conversation; yet 
dare I not say that from ivhat time Thou regeneratedst her by bap- 
tism, no word issued from her mouth against Thy Commandment.*' 
Thy Son, the Truths hath said, Whosoever shall say unto his bfothsr, 
Thott joot. shall be in danger of hell firej^ And woe be even unto 
the commendable life of men, if, laying aside mercy, Thou shouldcst 
examine it. But because Thou art not extreme in enquiring after 
sins, we confidently hope to find some place with Thee- But whoso^ 
ever reckons up his real merits 10 Thee, what reckons he up to Thee 
but Thine own gifts? O that men would know themselves to be 
men; and that he that ghricth wotdd glory in the Lord^^ 

I therefore, O my Praise and my Life, God of my heart, laying 
aside for a while her good deeds, for which I give thanks to Thee 
with joy, do now beseech Thee for the sins of my mother. Hearken 
unto mcj I entreat Thee, by the Medicine of our wounds, Who hung 
upon (he tree, and now sitting at Thy right hand mu^eth intcrces- 
*8| Cor. ^v. 2J, *'Maif, xii. 36, ^Mju. *- 2H. *' i Cor x. if- 



158 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

sio/i to Th££ for us^^ I know ih^L she dealt merciCully^ and from 
her heart forgave her debtors their debts; do Thou also forgii/e her 
debts'^ whai ever she may have eonrr.icLcd in so many years, since 
the water of salvation. Forgive her» Lord, forgive, J Ijeseech Thee; 
enter not into the judgment with her!'^ Let Thy mercy be exalted 
above Thy justice^ since Thy words are true, and Thou hast prom- 



jj 



Ised mercy unto the merciful; which thou gavesi ihem to be, a/ha 
tvilt have mercy on whom Thou u/ilt have mercy; and wilt have 
compassion on whom Thou hast had co7fipasiion." 

And, I believe, Thou hast already done what I ask; but accept. 
Lord, the free-will offerings of my moath^^ For she, the day of her 
dissolution now at hand, took no thought to have her body sumptu- 
ously wound up, or embalmed with spices; nor desired she a choice 
monument, or to he buried in her own land. These things she en- 
joined U5 not; but desired only to have her name commemorated ai 
Thy Altar, which she had served without intermission of one day: 
wlience she knew thai holy Sacrifice to be dispensed, by which the 
hand-writing that was against us is blotted out;^^ through which the 
enemy was triumphed over, who summing up our offences, and 
seeking what to lay to our charge, found nothing in Him,^^ in 
Whom we cont]uer. Who shall restore to Him the innocent blood? 
Who repay Him [he price wherewith He bought us, and so take 
us from Him. Unto the Sacrament of which our ransom, Thy 
handmaid bound her soul by the bond of faith. Let none sever her 
from Thy protection: let neither the lion nor the dragon*"* interpose 
himself by force or fraud. For she will not answer that she owes 
nothing, lest she be convicted and seized by the crafty accuser: but 
she will answer that her sins are forgiven her by Him, to Whom 
none can repay that price which He, Who owed nothing, paid for us. 

May she resE then in |>eace with the husband before and after 
whom she had never any; whom she obeyed, with patience bringing 
forth frufi"- unto Thee, that she might win him also unto Thee. 
And inspire* O Lord my God, inspire Thy servants my brethren. 
Thy sons my masters, whom with voice and heart, and pen I serve, 

that so many as shall read these Confessions, may at Thy Altar re- 

^Eom. viji. 34. ^Mjir KvjjL 351 v'l. j3. ^F$. cdiii. 2. *^Jam« 11. 13. 
*^Mi!i. V. 7. "Rom. in. 15. **Pfi. f\iv. 108. "Col. ]j. 14. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE I59 

member Monnica Thy handmaid, with Patridus, her sometimes 
husband, by whose bodies Thou broughtesi me inio [his life, how, 
r know not. May they with devout affection remember my parenis 
in this iranstrory light, my brethren under Tiiec our Father in our 
Caiboiic Mother, and my fellow-citizens in that eierniiJ Jerusalem 
which Thy pilgiim people sigheth after from their EKodus^ even 
' unto theit return thither. That so my mother's last request of me, 
may, through my Confessions, more than through my prayers, be, 
through the prayers of many, more abundantly fulfilled to her. 



THE TENTH BOOK 

Havjng in ihc former books spoken ot himself before his receiving the 
grace of Baptism, in this Augustine confesses what be then was. But 
first, be enquires by ^vha[ faculty we can know God at all, whence 
be enlarges on the mysterious character of the memory, wherein 
God, being maJe known, dwells, but which could not discover Him. 
Then be examines bis own trials under the triple dlvisian of lempta- 
tion, "lust of the flesh, lusi oE the eyes, and pride'', what Christian 
continency prescribes as [o racb. On Chrisl ihe Only Mediator, who 
heals and will heal all iniirmities. 

IET me know Thee, O Lord, who knowcst me; let me \notif 
Thee, as J am /(nown.' Power of my soul, enter into k, and 
^ (i[ it for Thee, that Thou mayest have and hold it ivUhout 
spot or wnnfild? This rs my hope, therefore do I spen^;^ and in this 
hope do 1 rejoice, when I rejoice healthfully. Other things of this 
life are the less lo be sorrowed for, the more they are sorrowed for; 
and rhe more to be sorrowed for, the less men sorrow for ihem. 
For behold, Thort lot/est the truth* and he that doth it, cometh to 
the iight^ This would I do in my heart before Thee in coiifession: 
and in rny writing, before many witnesses. 

And from Thee, O Lord, itnto whose eye^ the abyss of man's 
conscience is naked, whac could be bidden in mc though 1 would 
not confess it? For I should hide Thee from me, not me from 
Thee. But now, for that my groaning is witness, that 1 am dis- 
pleased with myself, Thou shinesL out, and art pleasing, and be- 
loved, and longed for; that I may be ashamed of myself, and 
renounce myself, and choose Thee* and neither please Thee nor 
myself, but in Thee- To Thee therefore, O Lord, am I open, what- 
ever I am; and with what fruit I confess unto Thee, I have said. 
Nor do I if with words and sounds of the flesh, but with the words 
of my soul, and the cry of the thought which Thy ear knoweth. For 

' 1 Cor. KiiL 12. '£ph, v. i?. ^Ps. csvi. 10, * Ps, li, 6. ^Itthsx lii. 20. 

*Heb. iv. 13. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE l6l 

when I am evil, then to confe&s to Thee is nothing else tlian to be dis- 
pleased with myself; but when holy, nothing eEsc than not to ascribe 
it to myself: because Thou* O Lord, blcssest the godly^ buc Jir^t 
Thou justifesl him whsn ungodly^ My confession then, O my God, 
in Thy sight* is made silently* and not dlently. For in sound, it is 
silent; in affection, it cries aloud. For neither do 1 utter any thing 
right unto men* which Thou hast not before heard from me; noi 
dost Thou hear any such thing from me, which Thou hisc noc first 
»id unto me. 

What then have T to do witH men* that they should hear my con- 
fessions — as if ihey could heal all my infirmities'* — a raee* curious 
to know the lives o£ others, slothful to amend their own ? Why seek 
they to hear from me what ! am; who will not hear from Thcc what 
themseEves areP And how kno^v they, :vhen from myself they 
hear of myself, whether I say true; seeing no man \nows it^hut is in 
man, but the spirit of man which is in hinj?^" liut if they hear from 
Thee of themselves, they cannot say, "The Lord lie[.h/' For what 
is it to hear from Thee of themselvei, but to know themselves? and 
who knoweth and siiith* "It is false," unless himself Heth? But 
because charity beiiei-eth alt things*^ (that is, among those whom 
kniiring unco itself it makeih one)* J also, O Lord, will in such wise 
confess unto Thee, that men may hear, lo whom ! cannot demon- 
straie whether I confess truly; yei they believe me, whose ears 
charity openeth unto me. 

But do Thou, my inmost Physician, make plain unto me what 
object 1 may gain by doing it. For the confessions ot my past sins, 
which Thou hast forgiven and cov^ed^^ that Thou mighcest bless 
me in Thee, changing my soul by Faith and Thy Sacrament, when 
read and heard, stir up the heart, that it sleep not in despair and say 
"I cannot,'* but awake in the love of Thy mercy and the sweetness 
of Thy grace, whereby whoso is toeak,, is strong, when by it he be- 
came conscious of his own weakness. And the good delight to hear 
of the past evils of such as are now freed from them, not because 
they are evils, but because they have been and are not. With what 
object, then, O Lord my God, to Whom my conscience daily con- 

'Ps. V. la, ^Rom, Iv, 5, ^Ps, tiiL 3. ''^ 1 Cor, ii. ii. ^^ ibid, m, 7. 

"Pi- jwii, 1. 



l62 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

fe^scEh, trusting more in the hope of Thy mercy than in her own 
innocency, wifh what object, 1 pray, do I by this book confess to 
men ylso in Thy presence whai i now am* not what I have beenP 
For that other object I liiive seen and spoken of. But what 1 now 
Eim, at the very time of making these confessions, divers desire tn 
know, who have or have not known me, who have heard from me 
or of me; but their ear h not at my heart, where 1 am, whatever 1 
am. They wish then to hear me confess what I am within^ whither 
neither their eye, nor ear, nor understanding can reach; they wish 
it, as ready lo beheve — but will they know? For charity, whereby 
they are good, telleth them that in my confessions I lie nor; and she 
in ihem, believeth me. 

Bur for what object would they hear this? Do they desire to joy 
with me, when they hear how near, by Thy gift, I approach unio 
Thee? and to pray for me, when they shalE hear how much I am 
hcid back by my own weight? To such will 1 discover myself. For 
it is no mean object, O I-rf>rd my God, i/iat by tuauy than\s ihould 
be given to Thee on our behaif." and Thou be by many entreated 
for us. Let the brotherly mind love in me what Thou teachest is to 
be loved, and lament in me what Thou teachest is to be lamented. 
Let a brotherly, not a strangerj mind, not that of the strange chil- 
dren, ufhoie motuh ral^^/i oj uanity. and their right hand is a right 
hand of iniquity^^ but that brotherly mind which when it approv- 
eth rejoiceih for me, and when it disapprovcth me, is sorry for me; 
because whether it approveth or disapproveth, it loveth me. To such 
will I discover myself: they will breathe freely at my good deeds, 
sigh for my ill. My good deeds are Thine appointments and Thy 
gifts; my evil ones are my oiTences, and Thy judgments. Let them 
breathe freely at the one, sigh at the other; and let hymns and weep- 
ing go up into Thy sight out of the hearts of my brethren, Thy 
c^nsers^^ And do Thou, O Lord, be pleased with the incense of 
Thy holy temple, have jnercy upon nie according to Thy great 
mercy for Thine own name's sa^e;^^ and no ways forsaking what 
Thou hast begun, perfect my imperfections. 

This is the object of my confessions of what 1 am, not of what 
I have been, to confess this, not before Thee only, in a secret 

" J Cor. iir Ji. '*Ps, csliv. It. "^Rev^ viii. 3. '^Ps. Iu j^ 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 163 

cxuhatioa with trembUns^^^ and a secrei sorrow with hope; but in 
che ears also of the bdieving son^ of men, ::harers ot my joy, and 
partners in my monality, my fcllow-cicizens, and fellow- pilgrims, 
who are gone before, or are to follow on, companions of my way. 
These are Thy servants, my brethren, whom Thou witlesi lo be Thy 
sons; my masters, whom Thou commandest me to serve, i£ I would 
live with Thee, of Thee. But this Thy Word were htcle. did it 
only command by sptiiking and not go before in performing. This 
then 1 do in deed and word, this I do under Thy ivingi; in over 
great peril, were not my soul subdued tmto Thee under Thy wings, 
and my infirmity known unto Thee, i am a little one, but my 
Father ever liveth, and my Guardian is sii^cient for me. For he is 
the same who begat me, and defends me: and Thou Thyself art 
all my good; Thou, Almighty, Who STt with me, yea, before 1 am 
with Thee. To such ihen whom Thou i:onimandcst me to serve will 
[ discover, not what I have been, but wliat I now am and what I 
yet am. But neither do I judge myself}^ Thus therefore I would be 

heard. 

For Thou, Lord, dost judge we:'^ because, although no man 
]{no!uetJs the thing! of a man. but the spirit of a man which is in 
him, yet is there something of man, which neither the spirit of man 
that is in him. itself kj30weth^^ But Thou, X-ord, knowest ail oE 
him. Who hast made him. Yet I, though in Thy sight 1 despise 
myself, and account myself dust and ashes; yet know 1 something of 
Thee, which 1 know not o£ myself. And truly, now we see through 
a glass darkly, not face to fac^' as yet. So long therefore as / he 
absent from Thee,^ I am more picscnt with myself than with Thee, 
and yet know I Thee that Thou art En no ways passible; but I, what 
temptations 1 can resist, what I cannot, I know not. And there is 
hope, because Thou art faithful, Who wilt not suffer iis to be 
tempted ahof/e tfiat we are able; but wilt with the temptation also 
7nal{e a way to escape, that we may he able to bear itj'^ 1 will confess 
then what 1 know of myself, 1 will confess also what I know not 
of myself- And that because what 1 do know of myself, i know by 
Thy shining upon me; and what 1 know not of myself, so long 

'"Pt. ii. II. '^1 Cor. iv. 3- ^^ll^'d. ^ibi'f.W. 11- =U^jW. liii, ^2. 

"2 Cor. V. 6. "1 Cur. x. j. 



164 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

know I not it, unEil my darkness he made as the noon-day^'' in Thy 
countenance. 

Not with doubting, but wiih assured consciousness, do T love 
Thee, Lord. Thou hast stricken my heart with Thy word, and 1 
loved Thee. Yea also heaven and earth, and ail that therein is, be- 
hold on every side they bid me love Thee; nor cease to say so unto 
ali^ that they may be without excuse. Bui more deeply tffilt Thou 
have mercy on whom Thou wilt have mercy, and wilt have compas- 
iiort on whom Thou hast had compassion:'^ else in deaf cars do the 
heaven and the earth speak Thy praises. But what do 1 love, when 
1 love Thee? not beauty of bodies, nor the fair harmony o£ time, 
nor the brightness of the hght, so gladsome to our eyes, nor sweet 
melodies of varied songs, nor the fragrant smell of flowers, and oint- 
ments, and spices, not manna and honey, not limbs acceptable to 
embracements of fle.sh. None of these I love, when 1 love my God; 
and yel I love a kind o£ light, and melody, and fragrance, and meat, 
and embracement when I love my God, the light, melody, fragrance, 
meat, embracement o£ my inner man: where there shineth unto my 
soul what space cannot contain and there soundeth what time bear- 
eth not away, and there smclleth what breathing disperscth not, and 
there tasteih what eating diminisheih not, and there clingech what 
satiety divorceth not- This is it which I love when I love my God. 

And what is this? 1 asked the earth, and it answered me, ''I am 
not He;" and whatsoever are in it confessed the same. I asked the 
sea and the deeps, and the living creeping things, and they answered, 
"We are not Thy God, seek above us." i asked the moving air; and 
the whole air with his inhabitants answered, "Anaximenes was de- 
ceived, 1 am not God." I asked the heavens, sun, moon, stars, "Nor \ 
(say they) are we the God whom thou seekest.'^ And I rcpHed unto 
alt the things which encompass the door of my flesh: *'Ye have told 
me of my God, that ye are not He; tell me something of Him." 
And they cried out with a loud voice, *'He made us," My question- 
ing them, was my thoughts on tliem: and their form of beauty gave 
the answer. And 1 turned myself unto myself, and said to my- 
self, "Who art thou?" And I answered, "A man." And behold, in 
me there present themselves to me soul, and body, one without, the 

^h^. Iviii, 10. "itoni. i, 20; vt. 15, 



F 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 165 

Oilier wiihin. By which of these ought I to seek my God? I had 
sought Him in the body from earth to heaven^ so far as I could send 
messengers, the beams uf mine eyes. Bui the better is tiie inner, for 
to it as presiding and judging, all the bodily messengers reported ihe 
answers of heaven and earth, invl all things therein^ who said, "We 
are not God, but He made us." These things did ray inner man 
know by the ministry of the outer: I the inner knew them; I, the 
mind, through the senses of my body. 1 asked the whole frame 
of the world about my God^ and it answered me> "I am not He, but 
He made me." 

Is not this corporeal figure apparent to all whose senses are per- 
fect? why then speaks it not the same to all? Animals small and 
great see it^ but they cannot ask it: because no reason is set over 
their senses to judge on what t]]ey report. But men can ask, so 
that th£ inifisibls thiiigi of God ar^ dearly seen, being u/fderslood 
by the ihsngs that are madefy but by love of them, they are made 
subject unto them: and subjects cannot judge. Nor yet do the 
creatures answer such as ask, unless they can judge; nor yec do they 
change iheir voice (;. f., their appearance), if one man only sees, 
another seeing asks, so as to appear one way to this rnan, another 
way to thai; but appearing the same way to both, it is dumb to this, 
speaks to that; yea rather it speaks to all; but they only under- 
stand, who compare its voice received from wilhoul, with the truth 
within. For [ruth saith unto me, "Neither heaven, nor earth, nor 
any other body is thy God." This, their very nature saith Co him 
that seeth [hem: *'They are a mass; a mass is less in a part thereof 
than in [he whole." Now to thee I speak, O my soul, thou art my 
better part: for thou quickenest the mass of my body, giving it life, 
which no body can give to a body: bui: tby God is even unto thee 
the Life of thy life. 

What then do I love, when I love my God? who is He above 
the head of my soul? By my very soul will J ascend [0 Him, 1 will 
pass beyond that power whereby 1 am united to my body, and 
fill its whole frame with life. Nor can I by that powec find my 
God; for so horse and mule that have no understanding^' might 
find Him; seeing it is the same power, whereby even their bodies 



] 



l66 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

live, Bui another power there Js, not Ehat only whereby I animate^ 
but thyt loo whereby 1 imbue with sense my fiesb, which the Lord 
harh framed for me: commanding the eye not to hear, and the car 
not to see; bnt the cyc» that through it 1 should see, and the ear, 
that through it I should liear; and to the other senses severally, what 
is to each their own peculiar seals and offices; which, being divers^ 
1 the one mind, do through them enact. 1 will pass beyond this 
power of mine aTso; for this also have the horse and mule, for diey 
also perceive ihrough the body. 

1 will pass then beyond this power of my nature also, rising by 
degrees unto Him who made me. And I come Co the fields and 
spacious palaces oE my memory, where are the treasures of innu- ' 
merable images, brought into it from thingsS of all sorts perceived 
by the senses. There is stored up, whatsoever besides we think, either 
by enlarging or diminishing, or any other way varying those things 
which the sense hath come to; ;md wlialcver else hath been com- | 
mined and laid up, which forgetfulness halh not yet swallowed 
up and buried. When I enter there, 1 require what I will to be 
brought forth, and something instantly tomes; others must be longer 
sought after, which are fetched, as it were^ out o£ some inner recep- 
tacle; others tush out in troops, and while one thing is desired and 
required, ihcy start forth, as who should say. "Is it perchance 1?" 
These I drive a^vay with the hand of my heart, from the face of my 
remembrance; until what I wish for be unveiled, and appear in 
sight, out of its secret place. Other things come up readily, in un- 
broken order, as they are called for; those in front making way for the 
following; and as ihey make way, they are hidden from sight, 
ready to conie when 1 wilh All which takes place when I repeat a 
thing by heart. 

There are all things preserved distinctly and under general heads, 
each having entered by its own avenue: as light, and all colours and 
forms of bodies by the eyes; by the ears all sorts of sounds; all 
smells by the avenue of the nostrils; all tastes by the mouth; and 
by the sensation of the whole body, what is hard or soft; hot or 
cold; smooth or nigged; heavy or light; either out^^ardly or in- 
wardly to the body. All these doth that great harbour of [he mem- 
ory receive in her numberless secret and inexpressible windings, to 



I 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST- AUGUSTINE 167 

be forthcomingT and brought out at need; e.ich entering in by his 
own gate, and there laid up. Nor yet do the things themselves enter 
in; only the images oi the things perceived are there in readiness, 
for thought to recall. Which images, how they are Eormedj who 
can tell, though it doth plainly appear by which sense each hath been 
brought in and stored up? For even while I dwell in darkness and 
in silence, in my memory 1 can produce colours, i£ I will, and discern 
betwixt black and while, and what others I will: nor yet do sounds 
break in and disturb the image drawn in by my eyes, which 1 am 
reviewing, though they also are tliere, lying dormant, and laid up, 
as it were, ajiari. For these too 1 call for, and forthwith they appear. 
And [hough my tongue be scill, and my throat mute, so can I sing 
as much as I wiU; nor do those images o£ colours, which notwith- 
standing be there, intrude themselves and rnlerrupt, when another 
store is called {or, wliich flowed in by the ears. So the other things, 
piled in and up by the other sense^s T recall at my pleasure. Yea, T 
discern the breath of lilies from violets, though smelling nothing; 
and I prefer honey to sweet wine, smooth before rugged, at tha 
time neither tasting nor handling, buc remembering only. 

These things do i within, in that vast court of my memory. For 
there are present widi me, heaven, earth, sea, and whatever I could 
think on therein, besides what 1 have forgotten. There also meet 
I with myself, and recall myself, and when, where, and what I have 
done, and under wh,^t feelings. There be all which I remember, 
either on my own experience, or others' credit. Out of the same 
store do I myself wldi the past continually combine fresh and fresh 
likenesses of things which 1 have experienced, or, from what ! have 
experienced, have believed: and thence again infer future actions, 
events and hopes, and all these again I reflect on, as present, *'i 
will do this or that," say I Eo myself, in that great receptacle of my 
mind, stored with the images of things so many and so great, "and 
this or that will follow.'* "O that this or that might be!'* "God avert 
this or thatT' So speak 1 to myself: and when I speak, the images 
of all 1 speak of are present, out of the same treasury of memory; 
nor would I speak of any thereof, were the images wanting. 

Great is this force of memory, excessive great, O my (Jod; a large 
and boundless chamber! who ever sounded the bottom thereof? 



l68 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

yer h this a power of mine, and belongs unto my nature; nor do ! 
myself comprehend :ill thar I am. Therefore is the mind too strait 
to contain itself. And where should that be, which it conraineth 
not o£ itself? Is ii without it, and not within? how then doth it 
not comprehend itself? A wonderful admiration surprises me, 
amazement seizes me upon this. And men go abroad to admire the 
heights of mountains^ the mighty billows of the sea, the broad tides 
of rivers^ the compass of the ocean^ and the circuits of the stars, 
and pass themselves by; nor wonder that when I spake o£ all these 
things, I did not 5cc them with miiie eyes^ yet could not have spoken 
of ihem^ unless I then actually saw the mountains, billows, rivers, 
stars which I had seen, and that ocean which 1 believe to be, in- 
wardly in my memory, and ihat, with the same vast spaces bet^veen, 
as if I saw them abroad. Yet did not 1 by seeing draw them into 
myself^ when with mine eyes 1 beheld them; nor are they them- 
selves with me, but their images only. And I know by what sense of 
the body each was impressed upon me. 

Yet not these alone docs the unmeasurable capacity of my mem- 
ory retain- Here aiso is all, learnt of the liberal sciences and as yet 
unforgoiien; removed as it were lo some inner place, which is yet 
no place: nor are they the images thereof, but the things them- 
selves. For, what is literature, what the art of disputing, how many 
kinds of questions there be, whatsoever of these I know, in such 
manner exists in my memory, as thai 1 have not taken in the 
image, and left out the thing, or that it should have sounded and 
passed away like a voice fixed on the ear by that impress, whereby 
it might be recalled, as if it sounded, when it no longer sounded; 
or as a smell while it passes and evaporates into air affects the sense 
of smell, whence it conveys into the memory an image of itself, 
which remembering, we renew, or as meat, which verily in the belly 
hath, now no taste, and yet in the memory still in a manner last- 
eth; or as any thing which the body by touch perceiveih, and which 
when removed from lis, the memory still conceives. For those things 
are not transmitted into the memory, but their images only are 
with an admirable swiftness caught up, and stored as it were in 
wondrous cabinets, and thence wonderfully by the act o£ remem- 
bering, brought forth. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 169 

Bui now when I hear rhat there be three kinds of questions, 
"Whether the thing be? what it is? of what kind it is?" I do indeed 
hold ihe images of [he sounds of which those words be composed, 
and thflt those sounds, with a noise passed tlirough the air, and 
now are not. Bu: the things themselves which are signilied by 
those sounds, I never reached with any sense of my body» nor even 
discerned them otherwise than in my mind; yet in my memory have 
I laid up not their images, but themselves. Which how they en- 
tered into me, let them say if ihey can; for I have gone over all the 
avenues of my flesh, but cannot find by which they entered. For the 
eyes say, "if those images were coloured, we reported of them." 
The ears say, "if they sound, we gave knowledge o£ them," The 
nostrils say^ "if they smelly (hey passed by us." The tasEe says, "unless 
they have a savour, ask me not." The touch says^ "if it have not 
size, 1 handled it not; i£ I handled it not, I gave no notice of it/' 
Whence and how entered these things into my memory? I know 
not how. Fof when I learned them, I gave no credit to another 
man's mind, but recognized them in mine; and approving tlxem 
for true, I commended them to it, laying them up as it were, whence 
I might bring them forth when I willed. In my heart then they 
were, even before I learned them, but in my memory they were 
not. Where then? or wherefore, when they were spoken, did I 
acknowledge them, and said, ''So is it, it is true," unless that they 
were already in the memory, but so thrown back and buried as it 
were in deeper recesses, that had not the suggestion of another 
drawn them forth 1 had perchance been unable to conceive of 
them? 

Wherefore we find, that to learn these things wtiereof we imbibe 
not the images by ouf senses, but perceive widiin by themselves, 
without unages, as they ate, is nothing else, but by conception to 
receive, and by marking to take heed that diose things which the 
memory did before contain at random and unarranged, be laid up 
at hand as it were in that same memory wheie before they lay un- 
known, scattered and neglected, and so readily occur to the mind 
familiarised to them. And how many things of this kind does my 
memory bear which have been already found out, and as I said, 
placed as it were at hand, which we are said to have leatned and 



I 



170 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

come to know; which were T for some short space of time to cease 
10 call [D niind^ they are iigain so buried, and glide b^ck, as it were> 
inEo the deeper recesses* th:iL they musE again, as if new, be thought 
out thenct?, for other abode they have none: but they must be drawn 
together again, that they may he known: that is to say, they must 
as it were be collected together from their dispersion: whence the 
word "cogitation" is derived. For cogo (collect) and cogito (re- 
collect) have the same relation to eacii other as ago and agitOy jacio 
and faclito. But the mind hath appropriated to itself this word (cogi- 
tation), so ihaf, not what is "collected" any how, but what is "re- 
collected," i.c brought together, in the mind, is properly said to be 
cogitated, or thought upon. 

The memory coniaincth also reasons and laws innumerable of 
numbers and dimensions, none of which hath any bodily sense im- 
pressed; seeing they have neither colour, nor sound, nor taste, nor 
smell, nor touch. 1 have heard ihe sound ot the words whereby 
when discussed they are denoted: but the sounds are other than the 
things. For the sounds are other in Greek than in Latin; but the 
things are neither Greek, nor Latin, nor any other language. I have 
seen the Hnes of architects, the very finest, like a spider*s thread; 
but those are still different, they are not the images of those lines 
which the eye of flesh showed me: he knowetli them, whosoever 
without any conception whatsoever of 3 body, recognises them 
within himself. I have perceived also the numbers of the things 
with which we number all the senses of my body; but those num- 
bers wherewith we number are different, nor are they the images 
of these, and therefore they indeed are. Let him who seeth them 
not, deride me for saying these things, and 1 will pity him, while he 
derides me. 

All these things i remember, and how I learnt them I remem- 
ber. Many things also most falsely objected against them have I 
heard, and remember; which though they be false, yet is it not false 
that I remember them; and I remember also that I have discerned 
betwi?:t those truths and these falsehoods objected to them. And 1 
perceive that the present discerning of these things is different from 
remembering that I oftentimes discerned them, when 1 often 
thought upon them, f both remember then to have often under- 
stood these things; and what I now discern and understand, I lay 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE IJl 

Up in my memory* that hereafter 1 msy remember that 1 understood 
it now. So then I remember also lo have remembered^ js i£ here- 
after I shall call X.0 remembranee^ that I have now been able to 
remember diese things* by the force of memory shall I call it to 
remembrance. 

The same memory contains also the aJTections of my mind* not 
in the 5;imc manner thui my mind itself contains Ehem, when it feels 
[hem ; but far otherwise, according to a power of its own. For with- 
out rejoicing i remember myself to have joyed; and without sorrow 
do I recollect my past sorrow. And lliat I once feared, I review 
wJthoLii fear; and without desire call to mind a past desire. Some- 
time?* on the contrary, wiLh joy do 1 remember my fore-past sor- 
row» and with sorrow, joy. Which is not wonderful, 'a^ to the body; 
for mind is one thing, body another. If I thtrefore with joy remem- 
ber some p^st pain of body, it is not so wonderful. But now seeing 
this very memory itself is mind (for when we give a thing in charge^ 
to he kept in memory, we say, '^Sec that you keep it in mind;" and 
when we forgei, we say» "It did not come to my mind/' and, "It 
slipped out of my mind," calling the memory itself the mind); 
this being so, how is it chat when widi joy t remember my past 
sorrow, the mind hath joy, the memory hath sorrow; the mind upon 
the joyfuhiess which is in it, is joyful, yet the memory upon 
the sadness which is in it* is not sadr' Does the memory perchance 
not belong to the mind? Who will say so? The memory then is, as 
it were, the belly of the mind* and joy and sadness, like sweet ;md 
bitter food; which, when committed to the memory* Jre, a? it were, 
l^assed into the belly, where they may be stowed* but cannot taste. 
Ridiculous it is to imagine these to be alike; and yet are they not 
utierly unlike. 

But, beholdj out of my memory I bring ic* when I say there be 
four perturbations of the mind, desire, joy, fear, sorrow^ and what- 
soever I can dispute thereon, by dividing each into its subordinate 
species, and by defining it, in my memory fmd I what to say, and 
thence do I bring it: yet am 1 not disturbed by any of these per- 
turbations, when by calling them to mind, 1 remember them; yea, 
and before I recalled and brought them back, they were there; and 
therefore could they* by recollection* thence be brought. Perchance, 
then, as meat is by chewing the cud brought up out of the belly, so 



i 



J72 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE 

by recollection these out of the memory. Why then does noc the 
disputcr, thus recollecting^ taste in the mouth of his musing the 
sweetness of joy^ or the bitterness of sorrowp Is the comparison 
unlike in this, bcc^u&c not in all rPspET:ts like? For who would will- 
ingly speak thereof, if so oft as we name grief or fear, we should 
be compelled io be sad or fearful? And yet could we not speak 
of them, did we not find in our memory, not only the sounds of the 
names according to the images impressed by ihe senses of the body» 
but notions of the very things themselves which we never received 
by any avenue of the body, bm which the mind itself perceiving by 
the experience of its ow[i passions, committed Co the memory, or the 
memory of itseEf retained^ without bemg committed unto. 

But whether by images or no, who can readily say? Thus, T 
name a stone, I name the sun, the things themselves not being pres- 
ent to my senses, but their images to my memory. 1 name a bodily 
pain, yei it is not present with me, when nothing aches; yet unless 
its image were present in my memory, I should not know what to 
say thereofi nor in discoursing discern pain from pleasure- I name 
bodily heahhi being sound in body, the thing itself is present with 
me; yet, unless its image also were present in my memory, I could 
by no means recall what the sound of this name should signify. 
Nor would the sick, when health were named, recognise what were 
Spoken, unless the same image were by the force of memory re- 
tained, although the diing itself were absent from the body. I name 
numbers whereby we number; and not their images* but themselves 
are present in my memory- i name the image of the sun, and that 
image is present in my memory. For I recall not the image of its 
image, but the image itself Is present to mej calling it to mind. I 
name memory, and T recognize what I name. And where do 1 
recognise it, but in the memory itself? Is it also present to itself 
by its image, and not by itself? 

What, when i name forgetfulness, and withal recognise what 1 
name? whence should I recognize it, did 1 not remember it? I speak 
not of the sound of the name, but of the thing which it signifies: 
which if I had forgotten I could not recognise what that sound sig- 
nifies. When [hen 1 remember memory, memory itself is, through 
itself, present with itself: but when I remember forgetfulness, there 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST- AUGUSTINE I73 

are presem both memory and forgcifulneaa; memory wliercby 1 re- 
member, forgetfulness which I remember. But what is forgetful- 
Dcss, but ihe privation of memory? How then is it present th:it I 
remember iu since when present I cannot remember? But if what 
we remember we hold it in memory, yet. unless we did remember 
forgeifulness^ we could never at the heating of the name recognise 
the thing thereby signified, then forgetfulncss is retained by memory. 
Present then it is, [hat we £urget not, and being so, we forget. If 
is [0 be underiJood from this thiit forge [fulness, when we remember 
it, is not present to the memory by itself, but by its imager because 
if it were present by itself, it would not cause us to rcmcmbefi but to 
forger. Who now shall search out this? who shall comprehend 
how it is? 

Lord, I, truly, roil therein, yea and toil in myself^ J am become 
a heavy soil requiring over much sweat of the brow. For we are not 
now searching out tlie regions of heaven, or measuring the distances 
of the stars, or enquiring the balancings of the earth. It is I myself 
who remember, I the mind. It is not so wonderful, if what I myself 
am not, be far from me. But what is nearer to me than myself? 
And lo, the force of mine own memory is not understood by me; 
though 1 cannot so much as name myself without it. For what shall 
I say, when it is clear to me that I remember forge [fulness? Shall I 
say [hat [hat is noi in my memory, which 1 remember? or shall I 
say that forgetfulncss is for this purpose in my memory, that I 
might not forget? Both were most absurd. What [hird way is there? 
How can 1 say [hat the image of forgetfulness is retained by my 
memory, not forgetfulness itself, when I remember it? How could 
1 say this either, seeing that when the image of any thing is im- 
pressed on the memory, the ihing itself must needs be first present, 
whence that image may be impressed? For thus do \ remember 
Carthage, thus all places where I have been, thus men's faces whom 
I have seen, and things reported by [he other senses; thus the health 
or sickness of the body. For when these things were present, my 
memory received from them images, which, being present with me, 
! might look on and bring back in my mind, when I remembered 
them in their absence. If then this forget fulness is retained in the 
memory through its image, not through itself, then plainly itself was 



I 



1/4 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

once present, thai its image might be laken. Bui when it was present^ 
how did it write its im;>gc ii] the memory^ seeing that foFgetfulness 
by its presence eflaces even what it finds already noted? And yet» 
in whatever wjy^ although that way be past conceiving and esplain- 
ingi yei certain am I ihat I remember forgetful ness itself also, 
whercbv what we remember is effaced. 

Great is the power of memory, a fearful thing, O my God, a deep 
and boundless manifoldncss; and this thing is the mind, and this 
am I myself. What am I then, O my God? What nature am 1? 
A life various and manifold, and exceeding immense. Ueliold in the 
plains, ^nd caves, and caverns of my memory, innumerable and in- 
numerably full o£ innumcrahie kinds of things, either through 
images, as all bodies; or by actual presence, as the arts; or by certain 
notions or impressions, as ihe affections of the mind, which, even 
when <he mind doth not feel, the memory retaineth, while yet what- 
soever is in the memory is also in the mind — over all these do I run^ 
1 fly; I dive on this side and on that, as far as ! can, and there is no 
end. So great is the force of memory, so great the force of life, even 
in the mortal life of man. What shall 1 do then, O Thou my true 
bfe^ my God? 1 v/ill pass even beyond this power of mine which is 
called memory: yea, I will pass beyond it, that 1 may approach unto 
Thee, O sweet Light, What sayest Thoa to me? See, 1 am mount- 
ing up through my mind towards Thee who abidest above me. Yea, 
I now will pass beyond this power of mine which is called memory, 
desirous to arrive at Thee, whence Thou mayest be arrived at; and 
to cleave unto Thee, whence one may cleave unto Thee. For even 
beasts and birds have memory; else could they not return to their 
dens and nest^, nor many other things they are used nnio: nor 
indeed conld they be used to any diing, but by memory. I will p^ss 
then beyond memory also, that I may arrive at Him who hath 
separati^d mc from the four-fouted beasts and made me wiser than 
the fowls of the air, I will pass beyond memory also, and where shall 
I find Thee, Thou truly good and certain sweetness? And where 
shall I find Thee? If I find Thee without my memory, then do I 
not retain Thee in my memory. And how shall 1 find Thee, if I 
remember Thee not? 

For rhe woman that had lost her groar, and sought ii with a 



THE CONFESSION'S OF ST. AUGUSTINE 1 75 

light; unless she had remembered it, she had never found ii.'' For 
when it was found, whence shojld she know wheiher it were the 
same, unless she remembered ii? 1 remember to have sought and 
found mJny a ihing; itnd this 1 thereby know* ihat when i was seek- 
ing any of them, and wasask.cd, "Is this it?" "Is that itV 5o long said 
I "No," until thai were olfercd me which 1 sought. Which had I 
nor remembered (whatever i[ were) though it were offered me, yet 
should i not find it, because 1 could not recognize if. And so ii ever 
is, when we seek and lind any lost th[r\g. Notwithstanding, when 
any thing is by chance lost from the sight, not from the memory (as 
jny visible body), yet its image is itiil retained within, and it is 
souglit until it be restored to sight; and when it is found, it is recog- 
nized by the image which is within: nor do we say that we have 
found whut was lost, unless we recognise if; nor can we recognize 
it, unless we remember ii. But this was lost to the eyes, but retained 
in the memory, 

Uut what when the memory itself loses any thing, as falls out when 
we forget and seek that we may recollect? Where in the end do we 
search, but in the memory itself? and there, if one thing be per- 
chance offered iiwtead o£ another, wc reject it, until what we seek 
meets us; and v^hen it doth, we say, 'This is it;" which we should 
not unless we recognized it, nor recognize it unless we remembered 
it. Certainly then we had forgotten it. Or, had not the whole es- 
ta|Te(I us, but by the part whereof we had hold, was the lost part 
sought for; in that the memory felt that it did not carry on together 
all ^vhich ii was ivont, and maimed, as it were, by the curtailment 
of its ancient habu, demanded [he restoration of what it misscdP 
For instance, if we see or think of stime one known to us, and having 
forgotten his name, [ry to recover it; whatever else occurs, connects 
itself not therewith; because it xvas not wont to be thought upon 
together with him, and therefore is rejected, until that present itself, 
whereon the knowledge reposes equably as irs wonted object. And 
whence does that present itself, but out of the memory itself? for 
even when we recogni:^e it, on being reminded hy another, it is 
thence it comes. For we do not believe it as something new, but, 
upon recoHcction, allow what was named to he right. But were it 
utterly blotted out of the mind, we should not remember it, even 



i 



jy6 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST- AUGUSTINE 

when reminded. For wc have not as yei uLierly forgotten that, which 
we remember ourselves to have forgotten. What then we have 
urcerly forgotten, though lost, we cannot even seek after- 
How then do I seek Thee, O Lord? For when 1 seek Thee, my 
Cod, I seek s happy life. / nil/ tee^ Thee, that my soul may live. For 
my body livech by my soul; and my soul by Thee. How then do 1 
seek a happy liEe, seeing I have it not, umil I can aay, where I ought 
to say it/'Il is enough"? Howseeklii? By remembrance, as though 
I had forgotten it, remembering thai I had forgotten it? Or^ desiring 
to learn it as a thing unknown, either never having known, or so 
forgotten it, as not even to remember that I had forgotten it? is not a 
happy life what all will, and no one altogether wills it not? where 
have ihey known it, that they so will it? where seen it» that they so 
love it? Truly we have it, how, I know not. Yea, there is another 
%vay, wherein when one hath it, then is he happy; and there are, 
who are blessed in hope. These have it in a lower kind, than they 
who have it in very deed; yet are they better off than such as are 
happy neither in deed nor in hope. Yet even these, had they it not 
in some son, would not so will to be happy, which that they do wdl, 
is moil certain. They have known it then, 1 know not how, and so 
have it by some sort of knowledge, what) 1 know not, and am per- 
plexed whether it be in the memory, which if it be, then we have 
been happy once; whether all severally, or in that man who first 
sinned, in whom also tt'c all died^ and from whom we are all born 
with misery, 1 now enquire not; but only, whether the happy life 
be in the memory? For neither should we love it, did we not know 
it. We hear the name, and we all confess that we desire the thing; 
for we are not delighted with the mere sound. For when a Greek 
hears it in Laiin, he is not delighted, aat knowing what is spoken; 
but we Latins arc delighted, as would he too, if be heard it in Greek; 
because the thing itselHs neither Greek nor Latin, which Greeks and 
Latins, and men of all other tongues, long for so earnestly. Known 
therefore it is to all, for could they with owe voice be asked, ''would 
they be happy?" they would answer without doubt, "they would," 
And this could not be, unless the thing itself whereof it is the name 
were retained in their memory. 

" I Car- St. 22. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE I77 

Bu! !s it so, as one remembers Carthage v/ho hath seen it? No. 
For a happy [ife is not se^n with thp eye, because U is not a body. 
As we remember numbers then? No. For these, he that iiath in his 
knowJedge, seeks not further to attain unto; but a happy |j£e we 
have in our knowledge and therefore love it, and yet still desire to 
attain it, that we may be happy. As we remember eloquence then? 
No. For although upon hearing ihis name also, some call to mind 
the thing, who siill are not yet eloquent, and many who desire to be 
so^ whence it appears ihat it is in their knowledge; yet these have 
by their bodily senses observed others to be eloquent, and been de- 
lighted, and deiire to be the like (though indeed they would not 
be delighted but for some inward knowledge (hereof, nor wish to be 
the like, unless they were thus delighted); whereas a happy life, we 
do by no bodily sense experience in others. As then we remember 
joy? Perchance; for my joy f remember, even when sad, as a happy 
life, when unhappy; nor did 1 ever with bodily sense see* hear, smell, 
taste, or touch my ]oy; but 1 experienced it in rny mind, when I re- 
joiced; and the knowledge of it clave to my memory, so that 1 can 
recall it with disgust sometimes, at others with longing, according 
10 the nature of the things, wherein I remember myi,elf to have 
joyed. For even from foul things have 1 been immersed in a sort 
of joy; which now recalling, 1 detest and execrate; otherwise in 
good and honest things, which 1 recall ivith longing, although per- 
chance no longer present; and therefore with sadness 1 recall former 
joy. 

Where then and when did I experience my happy life, that T 
should remember, and love, and long for it? Nor is it I alone, or 
some few besides, but we all would fain be happy; which, unless by 
some certain knowledge we knew, we should not with so certain 
a will desire. But how is this, that if two men be asked whether they 
would go to the wars, one, perchance, would answer that he would, 
the other, that he would not; but if they were asked whether they 
would be happy, both would instantly without any doubting say 
they would; and for no other reason would [he one go to the wars, 
and the other not, but to be happy. 3s it perchance that as one looks 
for his joy in this thing, another in that, all agree in their desire 
of being happy, as they would (if they were asked) that they wished 



i 



1 



lyS THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

Eo have joy, and [his joy they call a happy life? Although then one 
obtains this joy by one means, another by another, ail have one end, 
which they strive to attain, namely, joy. Which being a thing which 
all must say they have experienced, it rs therefore found in the 
memory, and recognised whenever the name of a happy life is 
nicnCioned. 

Far be it, Lord, fitr be It from the heart of Thy servant who here 
confesseth unto Thee, £,tr be it, that, be the joy what it may, I should 
therefore think myself happy. For there is a joy which is not given 
to the ungodly^ but to those who love Thee for Thine own sake, 
whose joy Thou ThyselE art. And this is the happy life, to rejoice to 
Thee, of Thee, for Thee; this is it, and there is no other. For they 
who think there is another, pursue some other and not the true joy. 
Yet TS not their wiil turned away from some semblance of joy, 

it zs not certain then that all wish to be happy, inasmuch as they 
who wish not to joy in Thee, which is the only happy life, do not 
truly desire the happy life. Or do all men desire this, but because 
the flesh lustelh against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the fieih, 
that they cannot do what they would f^ they fall upon that which they 
can, and are content therewith; because, what they are not able to 
do, they do not will so strongly as would suffice to make them able? 
For 1 ask any one, had he rather joy in truth, or in falsehood ? They 
will as little hesitate to say *'in the truth," as to say "that they desire 
to be happy," for a happy life is joy in the truth: for this is a joying 
in Thee, Who art the Trtith^- O God my light, health of my counte- 
nance, my God^ This is the happy life which all desire; this life 
which alone is happy, all desire; to joy in the truth all de'jire. I have 
met with many that would deceive; who would be deceived, no one. 
Where then did ihey know this happy lite, save where they knew the 
trudi also? For they love it also, since they would not be deceived. 
And when they love a happy life, which is no other than joying in the 
truth, thenal^o do they love the truth; which yet they would not love, 
were there not some notice of it in their memory. Why then joy they 
not in it? why are they not happy? because they are more strongly 
taker) up with other things which have more power to make them 
miserable, than thac which they so faintly remember to make them 

^li. ilviil-u. *^Gj1. v. 17. "John siv. 6. ^Vs. Kxvii, 1; xlii, 11- 



THE C0^'FI■SSlO^'S of ST, AUGUSTINE 179 

happy. For there is ycc a little light in men; let iheni walk, let them 
wali^, that the dar^iteis oi/erta^e thetn not}* 

But why doih "truth generate hatred" and die man of thinef^ 
preaching ihe truth, become an enemj' to them? whereas a happy 
iift? is loved, which is noihing else but joying in die truth; unless 
tliat trud] is in that kind loved, di^i they who love any thing else 
would gladly have that ^vhich [hey love to be the trudi: and because 
they would nut be deceived, would noL he convinced that they are so ? 
Therefore do they hate the trinb for [hat thing's sake which they 
love instead of the truth. They love truth when she enlightens, they 
hate her when she reproves. For since they would not be deceived, 
and would dt'ceive, ihey love her when she discovers her&elE unto 
ihem, and hate her when she discovers ihcm. Whence she shall so 
repay Ehem, that they who would not be made manifest by ber, she 
both against their will makes manifest, and herself bccometh not 
manifest unto them. Thus, thus, yea thus doth the mind of marj, thus 
blind and sick, foul and ill-favoured, wish to be hidden, but that 
aught should be hidden from it, it wills not. But the contrary is 
requited it, that itself should not be hidden from the Truth; but the 
Trujh is hid from it. Yet even thus miserable, it had rather joy in 
irurhs than in falsehoods. Happy then will it he, when, no distraction 
interposing, it shall joy in that only Truth, by Whom all things 
are true. 

See what a space 1 have gone over in my memory seeking Thee, O 
Lord; and 1 liave not found Thee, without it. Nor have 1 found 
any thing concerning Thee, but what 1 have kept in memory, ever 
since I learnt Thee. For since I learnt Thee, I have not forgotten 
Thee. For where I found Traih, there found 1 my God, the Truth 
Itself; which since I learnt, I have not forgotten. Since then 1 learnt 
Thee, Thou residest in my memory; and there do I find Thee, when 
I call Thee to remembrance, and delight in Thee. The^e be my holy 
delights, which Thou hast given me in Thy mercy, having regard 
to ray poverty. 

But where in my memory residest Thou, O Lord, where residest 
Thou there? what manner of lodging hast Thou framed for Thee? 
what manner of sanctuary hast Thou builded for TheeP Thou hast 

'^Johii xii. 35. ^John viii. 40, 



l80 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

given this honour to my memory, to reside in it; but in what quarter 
of it Thou rcsidesC, that am I considering. For in diinking on Tiiee^ 
1 passed beyond such pans of it as the beasts also have, for I found 
Thee noi diere among the images of corporeal things: and 1 came 
to those parts lo which I committed the affections of my mind^ nor 
found Thee there. And I entered into the very seat of my mind 
(which it hath in my memory, inasmuch as the mind remembers 
itself also), neither wert Thou there: for as Thou art not a corporeal 
image, nor the affection of a living being (as when we rejoice, con- 
dole, desire, fear, remember, forget, or the like) ; so neither art Thou 
the mind itself; because Thuu art the Lord God of the mind; and 
all these arc changed, but Thou remainesl unchangeable over all, 
ifnd yet hast vouchsafed to dwell in my memory, since 1 learnt Thee. 
And why seek I nuw in what place diereof Thou dwellesi, as if there 
were places therein? Sure I am, that in it Thou dwellest, since I 
have remembered Thee ever since I learnt Thee, and diere I find 
Thee, when I call Tliee to remembrance. 

Where then did 1 find Thee, that 1 might learn Thee? For in my 
memory Thou wert not, before I learned Thee. Where then did 1 
find Thee, thai I might learn Thee, bat in Thee above me? Place 
there is none; ii/e go backward and forward,"^ and there is no place. 
Every where, O Truth, dost Thou give audience to all who ask 
counsel of Thee, and at once answerest all, though on manitold 
matters they ask Thy counsel. Clearly dost Thou answer, though 
ail do not clearly hear. All consult Thee on what they will, though 
they hear not always what they will. He is Thy best servant who 
looks not so much to hear that from Thee which himself willeth, z$ 
rather to will that which from Thee he heareth. 

Too late loved I Thee, O Thou Beauty of ancient days, yet ever 
newl too late 1 love Thee! And behold, Thou were within, and I 
abroad, and there I searched for Thee; deformed I, plunging amid 
tho^e fair forms which Thou hadst made. Thotr wert v/ith me, but I 
was not with Thee. Tilings held me far from Thee, which, unless 
they were in Thee, were not at all. Thou caliedst and shoutedst, and 
burstest my deafness. Thou fiashedst, shonest, and scatteredst my 
blindness. Thou breathedst odours, and / dreif in breath and ^nt 

"Job AtiiL S, g. 



THE CO^JFESSION'S OF ST, AUGUSTINE l8l 

for Thee. I lasted, and hunger and thirst. Thou touchcdst me, and T 
burned for Thy pe^ce. 

When I shall with my whole self cleave lo Tlioe, 1 shall no where 
have sorrow or labour; and my life shall wholly Lvc, as wholly full 
of Thee, But now since whom Thou fillesc, Thou liftci^t up» because 1 
am no: full of Thee I am a burden to myself. Lamentable joys strive 
with joyous sorrows: and on :vhich side is ihe victory, I know not. 
Woe is me! Lord, have pity on me. My evil sorrows active wich my 
good joys; and on which side is the victory, I know not. Woe is mef 
Lord, have pity on me. Woe is meJ lol 1 hide not my wounds; Thou 
art the Physician, I the sick; Thou merciful, J miserable. Is not the 
life of fjati upon earth ail trial?^' Who wishes for troubles and dilfi- 
cukies? Thou commandest them to be endured, not to he loved. Ho 
rrjan loves what he endures, though he love to endure. For though 
lie rejoices that he endures, he had rather there were nothing for 
him to endure. In adversity I long for prosperity, in prosperity I 
fear adversity. What middle place is there betwixt these two, where 
the life of man is not alt trial? Woe to the prosperities of the world, 
once and again, through fear of adversity, and corruption of joy! 
Woe to the adversities of the world, once and agjin, and the third 
time, from the longing for prosperity, and because adversity itself 
is 3 hard thing, and lest zl shatter endurance. Is nol tlie life of man 
upon earth all trial: without any interval P 

And all my hope is no where but in Thy exceeding great mercy. 
Give what Thou enjoinest, and enjoin what Thou wilt. Thou cn- 
;Qincst us conlinency; and when I l^new, saith one, that no man can 
be continent, unless God glee ii, this also was a part of wisdom to 
l^now whose gift she is^ By continency verily are we bound up and 
brought back into One, whence we were dissipated into many. For 
too litde doth he love Thee, who loves any thing with Thee, which 
he loveth not for Thee. O love, who ever burliest and never con- 
sumcstt O charity, my God! kindle me. Thou enjoinest continency: 
give me what Thou enjoinest, and enjoin what Thou will. 

Verily Thou enjoinest me continency from the lust of the fl^sh, 
the iust of the eyes, and the ambition of the worlds Thou enjoinest 
continency from concubinage; and for wedlock itself. Thou hast 
''Job. vii. 1,— Old Vuffi. =" Wisd. viii. ii. » i John u. i5. 



lS2 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

coumelled something better than what Thoa hast permitted. And 
since Thnu gavesi it, it was done, even before 1 became a dispenser 
of Thy Sacrament, liut there yet Kve in my memory (whereof 1 
h:ive much spoken) the images o{ such things as my ill custom there 
fi>:ed, which haunt mc, strengthless when 1 :im awake: but in sleep» 
tiot only so as to give pleasure, but even to obtain assent> and what 
is very like re.ility. Yea, so far prevails the illusion of the imitge^ in 
my soul and in my flesh* that, when asleep, false visions persuade to 
th:^I which \vhcn waking, the true cannot. Am 1 not then myself, O 
Lord my God: And yet there is so much difference betwixt myself 
and myself, within that moment wherein 1 pass from waking to 
sleeping, or return from sleeping to waking! Where is reason then, 
which, awake* rcsistcth such suggestions? And should the things 
themselves be urged on it, it remaiiieih unshaken. Is it clasped up 
with rhe eyes? is it lulled asleep with the senses of the body? And 
whence is it diar often even in sleep we resist, an<l mindful of our 
purpose, and abiding most chastely in it, yield no assent to such 
enticements? And yet so much difference there is, that when it 
happeneth otherwise, upon waking we return to peace of conscience; 
and by this very difference <iiscover that we did not, what yet we be 
sorry that in some way it was donp in us. 

Art Thou not mighty, God Almighty, so as to heal all the diseases 
of my ioul*^ nnd by Thy more abundant grace lo quench even the 
impure motions of my sleep! Thou wHt increase. Lord, Thy gifts 
more and more in me, that my sou! may follow me to Thee, disen- 
tangled from the bird-lime ot concupiscence; that it rebel not against 
itself, and even in dreams noc only not, through images of sense, 
commit thoie debasing corruptions, even to pollution of the flesh, 
but not even to consent unto them. For that nothing of this sort 
should have, over the pure affections even of a sleeper, the very least 
influence, not even such as a thought would restrain— to work ihis> 
not only during life, btit even at my present age is not hard for the 
Almighty, Who art able to do abofe alt that we df^ or thiitf^^^ But 
whar I yei am in this kind of my evil, have I confessed unto my good 
Lord; rejoicing with tiemhling.'^ in that which Thou hast given me, 
and bemoaning that wherein 1 am still imperfect; hoping that Thou 



THE CON-FESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTIKE 183 

will perfect Thy mercies in me* even 10 perfeci peace, which my out- 
ward and inward man shaH have \vilh Thee, when d<^ath shall he 
/njalioieed up in victory*^ 

There is another ci/U of the day,** which I would were stifficiefjt for 
it. For by eating and drinking we repair the diiily decays of our 
body, until Thou destroy both bciiy and meat,''' when Thou shalt 
slay my emptiness with a wonderful lulnesSi and dothe this cor' 
riiptible ufith an eternal incorntpiton^ But now rhe necessity is 
sweet unEo mc, against which sweeLneiis I fight* that I be not taken 
captive; and carry on a daily war by tastings; often bringing my 
body inio stfbjeciion^'' and my pains are removed by pleasure. For 
hunger and thirsF are in a manner pains; they burn and kill like a 
fever, unless the medicine of nourishments come to our aid. Whfch 
since it is aL hand through the consolations of Thy gifts, with which 
land, and waler, and air serve our weakness, our calamity is termed 
gratification. 

This hast Thou taught me, that I should set myself to take food as 
physk. But while 1 am passing from rhe discomfort of emptiness to 
the content of replenishing, in the very passage the snare of con- 
cupiscence besets me. For that passing, is pleasure, nor is there any 
other way to pass thither, whither we needs must pass. And health 
being the cause of eating and drinking, there joineth itself as an 
attendant a dangerous pleasure, which mosdy endeavours to go be- 
fore it, so that I may for her sake do what 1 say i do, or wish to do, 
for health's sake. Nor have each the same measure; for what is 
enough for health, is too little for pleasure. And oft it is uncertain 
whether it be the necessary care of the body which is yet asking for 
sustenance, or ^vhether a voluptuous deceivableness of greediness is 
proffering its services. !n this uncertainty the unhappy soul rqoieeth, 
and therein prepares an excuse to shield itself, glad that it appeareih 
not what sulhceth for the moderation of health, that under the clo.ik 
of health, it may disguise the matter of gratification. These tempta- 
tions I daily endeavour to resist, and I call on Thy right hand, and to 
Thee do 1 refer my perplexities; because I have as yet no settled 
counsel herein. 

I hear the voice of my God commanding, Let not your he-arts be 
*^ 1 Cor. AV. 54. ** Man. vL 34- *'■' e Car. \u ij, *^ i Cur. %\. 54. *■ ll^d^ \x,- i?. 



L 



184 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

overcharged with surfeiting and dritni^fnnesi,"^ Drunkenness is far 
from me; Thou wilt have mercy, rhai it come not near me. But full 
feeding sometimes creepecb upon Thy servant; Thou wile have 
mercy, that it mjy be Ear from me. For no one can be continent un- 
less Thoii giue it*^ Mj^ny things Thou givest us, praying £or ihem; 
and what good soever we have received before we prayed, from Thee 
we received it; yea to (he end we might afterwards know this, did we 
before receive it. Drunkard was I never, but drunkards have I known 
made sober by Thee, From Thee then it was, that they who never 
were such, should noE so be, ss from Thee it was, that they who 
have been, should not ever so be; and from Thee lE was, that bodi 
might know from Whom it vjni. I hear another voice of Thine, Go 
not after thy lusts, and from thy pleasure turn away^ Yea by Thy 
favour have 1 heard that which I have much loved; neither if we eat. 
shall we abound; neither if we eat not, shaU we hcf(;" which is to 
say, neither shall the one make me plenieoas nor the oiher miserable. 
I heard also aiiother, for I have learned in whatsoeifer state I am, 
therewith to be eontent; I l{HOttf how to aboirnd, and hoiv to su§er 
need. I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me}^ 
Behold a soldier of the heavenly c,imp» not the dust which we are. 
But TememberJ'^ Lord, that we are dust, and that of ditst Thou hast 
made man;^' and he ivtis lost and is founds Nor could he of him- 
self do this, because he whom 1 so loved, saying this through the in- 
breathing of Thy inspiration, w,is of the same dusE. / can do all 
things (saith he) through Him that strengtheneth me, Screnglhen 
me, that / can. Give what Thou enjoiocsi. and enjoin what Thou 
wile. He confesses to have received, and when he glorieth, in the 
Lord he glorieth.^ Another have 1 heard begging that he might 
receive. Tafi;e from me (saith he) the desires of the belly:" whence 
it appeareih, O my holy God, that Thou givest, when that is done 
which Thou commandcst to be done. Thou hast Taught me, good 
Father, that to the pure, all things are pure; but Ehat il is euil unto 
the man that eateth with Q§encef^ and, that every creature of Thine 

is good, and nothing to be refused, which is received with thanks- 

'"^Lulie ^^i. 34. '''WLsd. uiii. Ji. ^Eccluj, nviil, 30, "j Cur. vib, &. 
*^PhU- iv, 11-13. "Ps. ciii. 14. ^trt-n. iii. 19, « LuU jlv. 3a, 
" I Cnr. i. 50. il. "Eixius. xtm. fi. ^^oxn. Aiv, io. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 185 

giuingf^ anc3 ihac mea£ commendeth us not to Cod/''^ and^ that no 
rtiufj should judge us in meat or drink,'^^ and, that he which eatsth. 
let hiw Ttot despiis him that eatsth not; and let him not that eateth 
not, judge him that eateth^^ These things have 1 lc,iriied, thanks be 
to Thee, praise to Thee, my God^ m/ Master, knocking af my ears, 
enljghiening my hearty deliver me out of all temptation, 1 fear not 
undeanness oi meat, but ihi? undeanness of lusting- I know that 
Noah tvas permitted eo cat all kind o£ flesh that was good for food;'* 
that Elijah was fed wiih fle^h;^* that John, endued with, an admi- 
rable abstinence, was not polluted by feeding on living creatures, 
locusts. I know also that Esau was deceived by lusting for Icntiles;" 
and that David blamed himself for desiiing a draught of water;" 
and that our King was tempted, nor concerning fleih, bat bread.*'' 
And therefore the people in the wilderness also deserved to be re- 
proved^not for desiring flesh, but because, in the desire of food, they 
murmured against the Lord." 

Placed then amid these temptations, 1 strive daily against con- 
cupiscence in eating and drinking. For it is not of such nature that 
1 can settle on cutting it off once for all^ and never touching it after- 
ward, as I could of concubinage. The bridle of the throat then is 
to be held attempered between slackness and stiffness. And who is 
he, O Lord, who is not some whit transported beyond the limits 
of necessity? whoever he is, he is a great one; let him make Thy 
Name great. But I am. not such, for i am a sinful man.^ Yet do 1 
too magnify Thy name; and He ma^eth intercession to Thee"* for 
my sins who hath ofercojite the tvorld;^^ numbering me among the 
wcal{ members or His bodyi'^ because Thine eyes have seen that o£ 
Him which is imperfect, and in Thy book^ shall all he writtenT^ 

With the allurements of smells, 1 am not much concerned. 
When absent, I do not miss them^ when present, I do not refuse 
them; yet ever ready To be ivithout them. So I seem to myself; per- 
chance I am deceived. For that ako is a mournful darkness whereby 
my abilities within are hidden from me; so that my mind making 

6»iTim. Iv. 4. «i Cot- vUi, 8. ^i Col. ii. j6. »* Rorr. xjii, 3, 
"Gen. ix. 3. ^1 Klnj^i jivii, 1 "Gcri- f^v. 34, "a Sam, s^iii. 15-17. 
e'Maii. \y. i, *«Nunib. xi. " Luke v. ft. ™Rom. viii. 34. " johji xv\. jj. 

"^i Cm- xii, 51. "Pa- tixais. 16. 



I 



i86 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

enquiry into herself of het own powers^ ventures nor readily to 
believe herself; because even what is in it is moslly hidden unless 
experience reveal it. And no one ought to be seture in that life^ the 
whole whereof is chilled a trial,* that he who haih been capable of 
worse to be m:ide better^ may not likewise of better be made worse. 
Our only hope, only confidence, only assured promise is Thy mercy. 

The delights of the ear had more firmly entangled and subdued 
me; but Thou ditkt loosen ant! free me. Now, in those melodies 
which Tliy words breathe soul into, when sung with a sweet and 
attuned voice, I do little repose; yet not so to be held Ehereby, but 
that I can disengage myself when I will- But wlih ihe words which 
are iheir life and whereby they find admission into me* themselves 
seek in my affections a place of some estimation, and I can scarcely 
assign them one suuable. For at one time I seem to myself to give 
them more honour than is seemly, feeling our minds to be more 
holily and fervently raised unto a Jlamc of devotion* by the holy 
words themselves when thus sung, ihan when not; and that the 
several affections of our spirit, by a sweet variety* have their own 
proper measures in the voice and singing* by some hidden corre- 
spondence wherewith they are stirred up. l?ut this cDntcncmcnt of 
the flesh, to which the soul must not be given over to be enervated 
doth oft beguile me, the sense not so waitinj^ upon reason as patiently 
to follow her; but having been admitted merely for her sake, it 
strives even to run before her, and lead her. Thus in these things I 
unawares sin, but afterwards am aware of it. 

At other rimes, shunning ovcr-anxiously this very deception^ I etr 
in too great strictness; and sometimes to that degree, as to wish the 
whole melody of sweet music which is used to David's Psalter, ban- 
ished from my ears, and the Church's loo; and that mode seems to 
me safer, which I remember to have been often told me of Atha- 
nasius. Bishop of Alexandria, who made the reader of the psalm 
utter it with so slight inflection of voice, that it was nearer speaking 
than singing. Yet again* when I remember the tears I shed at the 
Psalmody of Thy Church* in the beginning of my recovered faith; 
and how at this time I am moved not with the singing, but with the 
things sung, when they are sung with a clear voice and modulation 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE iS'J 

most suitable. I acknowledge [he great use of chis institution. TKus 
t fluctuate bct\vt4?n peril of pleasure and 3|)provecl wholesome ness; 
indiried the rather (though nor as pronouncing ^n irrevocable 
opinion) ro iipprovc of jhe usage of singing in the church; thui so 
by the delight of the Ciirs Lhc weaker minds may rise to the feeding 
ot devotion- Yet when it befalls me lo be more moved with the voice 
than the words sung, I confess to have sinned penally, and then had 
rather not hear music. See now my state: weep with me, iind weep 
for me, ye, whoso regulate your feelings within, as that good aciion 
ensues. For you who do not act, these things touch not you. But 
Thou, Q Lord my God, hearken; behold, and see, and Aar/e mctcy 
and heal we," Thou, in whose presence I have become a problem lo 
myself; and that is r>iy infirinily,'^ 

There remains the pleasure of these eyes of my flesh, on which [o 
make my confessions in the hearing of the ears of Thy temple, these 
brotherly and devout ears: and so to conclude the temptations of the 
tusi of the flesh, which yet assail me, groaning earnestly^ and desir- 
ing 10 be clothed upon with my house jrom hesvenl' The eyes love 
fair and varied forms, and bright and soff colours. Yjtl not these 
occupy my soul; let Cod rather occupy it, ti/ho -made these things, 
uery goo^^ indeed, yet is He my good, not they. And these aJfect 
me, leaking, the whole day, nor is any rest given me from ihem, as 
there is from musical, sometimes in silence, from all voices. For this 
queen of colours, the light, bathing all which we behold, wherever 
I am through the day, gliding by me in varied forms, soothes me 
when engaged on Other things, and not observing it. And so strongly 
doth it entwine itself, that if it be suddenly withdrawn, it is with 
longing sought for, and if absent long, saddencth the mind. 

O Thou Ligiit, which Tobias saw, when these eyes closed he 
taught his son the way of life;'^ and himself went before with the 
feet of charity, never swerving. Or which Isaac saw, when his fleshly 
eyes being heasjy^^ and closed by old age, it was vouchsafed him, not 
knowingly^ to bless his sons, hut by blessing to know ihem. Or which 
Jacob saw, when he also, blind through great age, with illumined 
heart, in ihe persons of his sons shed light on the different races of 

"Ps. vi. 3. '^P5, \\\si\- io, ^2 Cor. V- 2, ^Gen. i. 31, 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

the ftUiire people, in them foreslgnified; and laid his hands, mysti- 
cally crossed upon his grnndchildrcn by Joseph, not 3S their father 
by his out^yil^d eye corrected them, but as himself inwardly dis- 
ccrned.*' This is the light, it is one, and alf are onc^ who see and love 
it. But that corporeal light whereof I ipake, it seasoneili the life of 
this world for her blind lovers with 3.n enticing and dangerous sweet- 
ness. But they who know how to praise Thoe for it, "O All-creating 
Lordj" take it up in Thy hymns, and are not taken up with it in their 
sleep. Such would I be. These seductions of the eves I resist, lest my 
feet wherewith 1 walk upon Thy way be ensnared; and I lift up mine 
invisible eyes to Thee thac Thou wouldesC phici{ my jesi on!: of the 
snare.^^ Thou dost ever and anon pluck them out, for they are en- 
snared. Thou ccasest not to pluck them out, while I often entangle 
myself in the snares on all sides aid: because Thou that l^espcst Israel 
rttilh^r shij^bcr nor sfecp." 

What innumerable toys, made by divers arts and manufactures in 
our apparel, shoes, utensils and all sort of works, in pictures also in 
divers images, and these far exccedmg all necessary and moderare 
use and all pious meaning, have men added to tempt their own eyes 
withal; out\vardly following what themselves make, inwardly for- 
saking Him by whom themselves were made, and destroying that 
which ihemseWes have been madel But I, my God and my Glory, 
do hence also sing a hymn to Thee, and do consecrate praise to Him 
who consecrateih me, because beautiful patterns which through 
men's souls are conveyed into their cunning hands, come from that 
Beauty, which is above our souls^ which my soul day and night sigh- 
cth after. But the framers and followers of the outward beauties 
derive thence the rule of judging of them, but not of using them- 
And He is there* though they perceive Him not, that so ihcy might 
not wander, but ^ei.'p their strength jar Thcc^^ and not scatter it 
abroad upon pleasurable wearinesses. And I, though 1 speak and 
see this, entangle my steps with these outward beauties; but Thou 
pluckest me out, O Lord, Thou pluckest me out; because Thy loving- 
iiindness if b<^jore my eyes^ For 1 am taken miserably, and Thou 
pluckest me out mercifully; sometimes not perceiving it, when I 



^^Geiu KlviiL ^^Ps, x\v. 15. ^Pi- c):xL 4, 



"Ps- IviiL— Viilgi 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 1S9 

hiid but Hghtiy lighted upon ihem; otherwhiles wirli pain, because 
I had sEuck faac ii3 ihem. 

To ihis is added anolher form of temptation more manifoldly 
dangerous. For besides (hat concupis'-ence of the flesh which con- 
sisieih in the delight of all senses and pleasures, wherein ii slaves, 
who go far from Theef^ waste and perish, the soul hath» througli ihe 
same senses of the body» a certain vain and curious desire, veiled 
under the litle of knowfedge and learning, not of delighting in the 
flesh, but of making espcrimenis through ihe flesh. The seat 
ivhcreof being in the appetite of knowledge, and sight being the 
sense chiefly used for attaining knowledge, it is in Divine language 
called The hist of the eyes" For to see, belongeth properly to the 
eyes; yet we use ihis word oE the other senses also, when we employ 
them in seeking knowledge. For we do not say, hark how it flashes, 
or smell how it glows, or taste how it shines, or feel liow it gleams; 
for all these are s:iid to be seen. And yet we say not only, see how 
it shincih, which the eyes alone can perceive; but also, see how it 
wjundethj see how it smelleth» see how it tJ^leth, see how hard it is. 
And so the general experience of the senses, as was said, is called 
The lust of the eyes, because the office of seeing, wherein the e^es 
hold the prerogative, the other senses by the way of similitude take 
to (hemselves when ihey make seiirch after any knowledge. 

But by this may more evidently be discerned, wherein pleasure 
and wherein curiosity is the object of the senses; fur pleasure secketh 
objects beautiful, melodious, fragrant, savoury, soft; but curiosity, 
for trial's sake, the contrary as well, not for the sake of suffering 
annoyance, but out of the lust of making trial and knowing them. 
For what pleasure hath it, to see in a mangled carcase what will 
make you shudder? and yet if it be lying near, they flock thither, to 
be made sad, and to turn pale. Even in sleep they are afraid to sec 
it. As if when awake, any one forced them to see it, or any re[>ort 
of its beauty drew them thither! Thus also in the other senses, which 
it were long to go through. From this disease of curiosity are all 
those strange sights exhibited in the theatre. Hence men go on to 
search out the hidden po^vers of nature (which is besides our end), 
which to know profits not, anti wherein men desire nothing but to 

** Ps. Kj^iii. jy. *^ 1 John iJ. 16. 



190 THE CO^'FESSIO^TS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

know. Hence alsoj if with that snme end of perverted knowledge 
magical arts he enquired by. Hence also in religion itseif^ is God 
tempted^ when signs ynd wonders are demanded o£ Him, not 
desired for any good end, but merely to make trial of. 

In this so vast wilderness, full of snares and dangers, behold many 
of them, 1 have cut off, and thiust out of my heart, as Thou hast 
given me, O God of my salvation. And yet when dare I say, since 
so many ihings of this kind buzz on all sides about our daily Hfe — 
when dare I say that nothing of this sort engages my attention or 
causes in me an idle interest? True, the theatres do not now carry 
me away, nor cjre I to know ihe courses of the stars, nor did my 
soul ever consuk ghosts departed; all sacrilegious mysteries 1 detest. 
From Thee, Q Lord my God, to whom 1 owe humble and single- 
hearted service, by what artifices and suggestions doih the enemy 
deal with me to desire some sign! But I beseech Thee by our Kmg, 
and by our pure and holy country, Jerusalem, chat as any consenting 
thereto is far from me, so may i! ever be further and further. But 
when I pray Thee for the salvation of any, my end and intention is 
far different. Thoi.i givest and wik give tnc to foihif Thee willingly, 
doing vvhat Thou wUt.^ 

Notwithstanding, in how many most petty and contemptible 
things is our curiosity daily tempted, and how often we give way, 
who can recount? How often do we begin as it were tolerating 
people telling vain stories, lest we oflend the weak; llien by degrees 
we take interest therein! i go not now to the circus to see a dog 
coursing a hare: but in the field, if passing, that coursing perad- 
vcnture will distract me even from some weighty thought, and draw 
me after it: not that I turn aside the body of my beast, yet still in- 
cline my mind ihither. And unless Thou, having made me see my 
infirmilyi didst speedily admonish me either through ihs. sight itself, 
by some contemplation to rise towards Thee, or altogether to despise 
and pass it by, 1 dully stand fixed therein. What, when sitting at 
home, a hzard catching Elies, or a spider entangling ihera rushing 
into her nets, ofttimes cakes my attention? Is the thing different, 
because ihey are but small creaturesP 1 go on from them to praise 
Thee the wonderful Creator and Orderer of all, but this does not 

^ John x:ii. 2J. 



THE CONFESSIONS OP ST. AUGUSTINE I91 

first draw my atiennon. It is una ihing 10 rise quickly^ another not 
to fall. And of such things is my life full; ynd my one hope is Thy 
wonderful great mercy. For when out heart becomes the receptacle 
of such thing? and is overcharged with throngs of this abundant 
vanity, then are our prayers also thereby oEten interrupted and dis- 
tracLed, and whilst in Thy presence we direct the voice of our heart 
to Thine ears» this so great concern is broken ofF, by the rushing in 
oi I know not what idle thoughts. Shall we then account this also 
among things of slight concernment, or sh.ill aught bring us back 
to hope, save Thy complete mercy^ since Thou hast begun to 
change us? 

And Thou knowcst how far Thou hast already changed me^ who 
first healedst me of the lusi of vindicating myself, ihat so Thou 
mightest forgive ait ihe rest of my imf^ttities. and hejl iiU my in- 
firmities, and redeem my life from corruption, and crou/n nje with 
mercy and pity, and satisfy my desire ivith good zhtngs'^^ who didst 
curb my pride with Thy fear, and tame my neck lo Thy yoJ^e. And 
now I bear it and it is lighl^' unto me, because so hast Thou prom- 
ised, and hast made it; and verily so it was, and I knew it nol, when 
I feared to lake it. 

But, O Lord, Thou alone Lord without pride, because Thou art 
the only true Lord^ who hast no Lord; haih this third kind of temp- 
tation also ceased from me, or can it cease through this whole life? 
To wish, namely, to be feared and loved of men* for no other end, 
but that we may have a joy therein which is no joy? A miserable 
life this and a foul boastful ness ? Hence especially it comes that men 
do neither purely love nor fear Thee. And therefore dosi Thou resist 
the proud, and givest grace to the humble:'^' yea. Thou thunderest 
down upon the ambitions of the world, and the foundations of the 
mountains fremble.^^ I5ecai]se now certain offices of human society 
make it necessary to be loved and feared of men, the adversary of 
ouE true blessedness layeth hard at us, every where spreading his 
snares of "well-done, well-done;" that greedily catching al them, we 
may be taken unawares, and sever our joy from Thy truth, and set 
it in the deceivingness of men; and be pleased at being loved and 
feared, not for Thy sake, but in Thy stead: and thus having been 
fi^Ps. tJLL 3.-5, ^OMaiL ^, 30. ^ijjm, Lv. 6. '^ Ps, sviii. 7, 



T92 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

made like him, he m^y have them for his nwn^ not in the bands of 
charity, bur in the bonds of punishment; who purposed to set hii 
throne in the north^^ that dark and chilled they might serve him 
pervertedly and crookedly imitating Thee, But we, O Lord, behold 
we are Thy little fiocl^;^ possess us as Thine, stretch Thy wings over 
us, and let us fly under ihem- lie Thou our glory; let us be loved 
for Thee, and Thy word feared in us. Who would be praised of 
men when Thou bbmesc, will not be defended of men when Thou 
judgest; nor delivered when Thou coudemnest. But when — not the 
sinner is praised in the desires of his sonl^^ nor he blessed who doth 
ungodlily^ but — a man is praised for some gift which Thou hast 
given hiro, and he rejoices more at the praise for hiinself ihan that 
he hath the gift for which he is praised, he also is praised, while 
Thou dispraisest; and bet[er iihe who praised than he who is praised. 
For the one took pleasure in the gift of God in man^ the other was 
better pleased with the gift of man, than of God. 

By these temptations we are assailed daily. O Lord: without ceas- 
ing are we assailed. Our daily furnace^^ is the tongue of men. And 
in this way also Thou commandest us continence. Give what Thou 
enjoinest, and enjoin what Thou xvik. Thou knowest on [his matter 
the groans of my heart, and the floods of mine eyes. For I cannot 
learn how far I am more cleansed from this plague, and 1 much fear 
my ieeret sins^ which Thine eyes know, mine do nol. For in other 
kinds of temptations I have some sort of means of examining myself; 
in this, scarce any. For, in refraining my mind from the pleasures 
of the flesh and idle curiosity, I see how much I have attained to, 
when 1 do without them; foregoing, or not having them. For then 
I ask myself how much more or less troublesome it is to me not lo 
luive them? Then, riches, which are desired, that they may serve 
to some one or two or all of the three concupiscences,*' if the soul 
cannot discern whether, when it hath them, it despiseth them, they 
may be cast aside, that so it may prove itself. But to be without 
praise, and therein essay our powers, must we live ill, yea so aban- 
donedly and atrociously, that no one should know without detesting 
us? What greater madness can be said or thought of? But if praise 



"Is. xiv. 13, I.]. '*Liiltt xii, 3a- 



MPs. iif, 29— Vuli;. ^Vs. 



X. 3- 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE T93 

useth and oughi to accompany a good life and good works, we ought 
as little to forego its company, as good life itself. Yet I know not 
whether I can well or ill be without any thing, unless it be absent. 

Whnt then do I confess unio Thee in this kind of temptation, O 
JjDrd? What, but that I am delighted with prai&e, but with truth 
itself^ more [han with praise? For were it proposed to me, whether 
I would* being frenzied in error on all things, be praised by all men, 
or being consistent and most settled in the truth be blamed hy all, 
I sec which I should choose. Yet fain would I that the approbation 
of another should not even increase my joy for any good in. me. 
Yet I own, it doth increase it, and not so only, but dispraise doth 
diminish it. And when 1 am troubled at this my misery, an excuse 
occurs to me, which of what value it is, Thou God knowest, for it 
leaves me uncertain. For since Thou has commanded us not con^ 
tinency alone, that is, from what things to refrain our love, but 
righteousness also, that is, whereon to bestow it^ and hast willed us 
to love not Thee only, but our neighbour also; often, when pleased 
with inFelligeni praise, I seem to myself to be plea&cd with the pro- 
fidency or towardliness of my neighbour, or to be grieved for evil 
in him, when 1 hear him dispraise either what he understands not, 
or is good. For sometimes I am grieved at my own praise, either 
when those things be praised in me, :n which I mislike myself* or 
even l&sser and slight goods are more esteemed than they ought. 
But again how know 1 whether 1 am therefore thus affected, because 
I would not have him who praiseth me differ from me about myself; 
not as being influenced by concern for him, but because those same 
good things which please me in myself, please mc more when they 
please another also? For some how I am not praised when my judg- 
ment of myself is not praised; forasmuch as either those things are 
praised, which displease me; or those more, which please me less- 
Am I then doubtful of myself in this matter? 

Behold, in Thee, O Truth, 1 see that 1 ought not to be moved 
at my own praises, for my own sake, but for the good of my neigh- 
bour. And whether it be so with me, I know not. For herein I 
know less of myself than of Thee, 1 beseech now, O my God, dis- 
cover to me myself also, that 1 may confess unto my brethren, who 
are to pray for me, wherein I find myself maimed. Let me examine 



I 

I 



X94 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 



inyself again more diligenily. H in my praise I am moved with ihe 
good of my neighbour, why am I less moved if another be unjustly 
dispriiised ihan if it be myself? Why am 1 more stung by reproach 
cast upon myscff, ihan at that cast upon another, with the same 
injustice, before me? Know I not this also? or is it at la^i that 1 
deceive "jyjf//,™ and do not the truth before Thee in my heart and 
tongueP This madness put far from me, O Lord» lest mine own 
mouth be to me ihe sinner's oil to miik.s fat my hcad}^^ I am poor 
and needyi^^ yet best, while in hidden groanings I di-'iplGa-'>e mysoif, 
and seek Thy mercy, until what is lacking in my defective state be 
renewed and perfected, on to that peace which the eye of the proud 
knowelh not. 

Yet the word which comeih out of [he mouth, and deeds known 
to men, bring wiih them a mosr dangerous temptation through the 
love of praise: which to e&iabhsh a certain excellency of our own, 
solicits and collects men's sulTrages. It tempts, even when it is re- 
proved by myself in mysclfj on the very ground that it is reproved; 
and often glories more vainly of the very contempt of vainglory; and 
so it is no longer conicmpt of vainglory, whereof it glories; for it 
doth not contemn when it gloricdi. 

Within also, within is another evil, arising out of a like tempta- 
tion; whereby men become vain, pleasing themselves in themselves, 
though they please not, or displease or care not to please others. But 
pleasing themselves, they much displease Thee, not only taking 
pleasure in things not good, as if good, but in Thy good things, as 
though their own; or even if as Thine, yet as though for their own 
merits; or even if as though from Thy grace, yet not with brotherly 
rejoicing, hue envying that grace 10 others,. In all these and the 
like perils and travaib, Thou seest the trembling of my heart; 
and I rather feel my wounds to be cured by Thee, than not inflicted 
by me. 

Where hast Thou not walked with me, O Truth, teaching me 
what to beware, and what to desire; when I referred to Thee what 
I could discover here below, and consulted Tliee? With my outward 
senses, as I might, 1 surveyed the world and observed the life, which 
my body hath from me, aiid these vny senses. Thence entered 1 the 

™GaL vi. 31 I John i.e. '"Ps-cili-j. ^'^ Ts. os. li. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST, AUGUSTINE I95 

recesses oE my memory, those manifold and spacious chambers, won- 
derfully furnished with innumerable stores; jmd 1 considered, and 
stood aghast; bcmg able 10 diicern nothing of ihese things wkh- 
out Thee, and iinding none of (hem to be Thee. Nor was I myself, 
who found out thcsf? things, who went over diem all, and laboured 
to distinguiih and to value every thing according to its dignity, 
taking some things upon the report of my senses, questioning about 
others which I fell to be mingled with myself, numbering and dis- 
linguisbing the reporters themselves, and in the large treasure-house 
of my memory revolving some things, storing up others, drawing out 
others. Nor yet was I myself when I did this, i. e^, that my power 
whereby I did it. neither was it Thou, for Thou art the abiding light, 
which I eonsulted concerning all these, whether they were, what they 
were, and how to be valued; and I heard Thee directing and com- 
manding me; and this 1 often do, this delights me; and as far as \ 
may be freed from necessary duties, unto this pleasure have I re- 
course. Nor in all these which \ run over consuhmg Thee can I find 
any safe place for my soul, but in Thee; whither my scattered 
members may be gathered, and nothing of me depart from Thee. 
And sometimes Thou admiitest me to an afTection, very unusual, 
in my inmost soul; rising to a strange sweetness, wiuch if it were 
perfected in me, I know not what in it would not belong to the life 
to come. But through my miserable encumbrances I sink down 
again into these lower things, and am swept back by former custom, 
and am held, and greatly weep, but am greatly held- So much doth 
the burden of a bad CEistom weigh us down. Here I can stay» but 
would nor; there I would, but cannot; both ways, miserable. 

Thus then have 1 considered the sicknesses of my sins in that 
threefold concupiscence, and have called Thy right hand to my help. 
For with a wounded heart have I beheld Thy brightness, and stricken 
back I said, "Who can attain thither? l am cast rjti/ay from the sight 
of Thine eyss"^^ Thou art the Truth who presidest over all, hut T 
through my mvetousness would not indeed forego Thee, but wotild 
with Thee possess a lie; as no man would in such wise speak falsely, 
:is himself to be ignorant of the truth. So then I lost Thee, because 
Thou vouchsafest not to be possessed with a He. 



196 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

Whomconlcl 1 find to reconcile me to Thee? was 1 10 have recourse 
to Angels? by what prayers* by what sacraments? Many endeavour' 
Tug to return unFo Thtt, and o£ themselves unable, have, as I hear, 
tried this, and fallen into the desire of curious visions, and been ac- 
coEinied worthy to be deluded. For they, being high minded, sought 
Thee by the pride o£ learningi swelling out rather (han smiting upon 
their breasts, and so by the agreement of their heart, drew unto tl:iem- 
setves the princss of th<! air,^^^ the {ellow-conspiraiors of their pride, 
by whom, through magical influences, they were deceived, seeking a, 
mediator, by whom they might be purged, and thtre was none. 
For the devil ic was, tramfonmng himself into an Angel of light,^^ 
And it much enticed proud ilesh, th,il he had no body of flesh. For 
they were mortal, and sinners; but Thou, Lord, to whom they 
proudly sought to be reconcikd, art immortal, and without sin. But, 
a mediator between God and man must have something like to God, 
something like to men; lest being in both like to man, he should be 
far from God: or i£ in both like God, too unlike man: and so not 
be a mediator. That deceitful mediator then, by whom in Thy secret 
judgments pride deserved to be deluded, hath one thing in common 
with man, that is sin; another he would seem to have in common 
with God; and not being clothed with the mortality of flesh, would 
vaunt himself to be immortal. But since the wages of sin is deatk,^^ 
this hath he in common with men, that with them he should be 
condemned to death. 

But the true Mediator, Whom in Thy secret mercy Thou hast 
showed to the humble, and sentcst, that by fiis example also they 
might learn that same humility, ihat Mediator between Gad and 
man, the Man Chrisi Jesiis,^" appeared betwixt mortal sinners and 
the immortal Just One; mortal with men, just with God: that be- 
cause the wages of righteousness is life and peace, He might by a 
righteousness conjoined with God make void that death of sinners, 
now made righteous, which He willed to have in common with 
them- Hence He was showed forth (o holy men of old; that so they, 
through faith in His Passion to come, as we through faith of it 
passed, might be saved. For as Man, He was a Mediator; but as the 

'i^Hph, iL 2. ""2 Cor. xi. 14, '« Rom. vj. m. '*' i Tim. ii. 5. 



THE CONFESSION'S OF ST, AUGUSTINE I97 

Word, noc ia ihe middle beiwecn God and man^ because equal to 
God, and God wJlh God* ,iiid together one God- 
How bast Thou loved us, good Faihcr, wbo sparedst not Thine 
only Sou. hut ddiveredsi Him up for us ungodly!™ How haat Thou 
loved uSf for whom Hs that thought it no robbery to he eqttal with 
Thee, u/as made subject even to the death of the cross.^"^ He alone, 
jtee among tht^ deadj" having poit-'er to lay down hii hje, and power 
to tal{e it again}^^ for us [□ Thee boih Victor ynd Vjciim, and there- 
fure Victor, because the Victim; £[>r us to Thee Priest and Sacrifice, 
and therefore Priest because the Sacrifice; milking us to Thee, of 
servants, sons, by bein^ born of Thee, and serving us. Well then 
is my hope strong in Him, ihat Thou wilt heal all jny infirinitiesy^ 
by Him Who sitteth at Thy right hand and nia\eih intercession for 
wj;"^ else should I despair. For many and great are my infirmities, 
many they are, and great; but Thy medicine is mightier. We might 
imagine that Thy Word was far from any union with man, and 
despair of ourselves, unless He had been made flesh and dwelt 
among us}** 

Aflrighicd with my sins and the burden of my misery, T had cast 
in my heart, and had purposed to 0ee to the wilderness:"^ but Thou 
forbadesl me, and st re ngt he nedst me, saying. Therefore Christ died 
far all. that they which life may now no longer line unto thcmselues, 
but unto Him that died for them}*^ See, Lord, I cast my care upon 
Thee,*" thai I may live, and consider wondrous things out of Thy 
law.^'^ Thou knowest my unskilEulnesSi and my infirmities; teach 
me, and heal me. He, Thine only Son, in Whom are hid all the 
treasures of wisdom and i^nowiedge^^^ hath redeemed me with His 
blood. Let not the proud speaf{ evil of me;'^ because 1 meditate on 
my Ransom, and eat and drink, and communicate it; and poor. 
desired to be satisfied from Him, amongst those that eat and are 
satisfied, and they shall praise the Lord who see/i^ ///>»."' 

">*RQjn. vLiL ii. i«Phil. iL 6, 3, 

"Pps, hyxviii. 5 '"John x. iS. 'i^Pi. cii. 3. ^"Rom. viil. 54, 

"*JohQi- 13. iiiJ-i, Iv. 7. ii'jCor. V. 15. '"Ps.lv. 22. "»P3,«i):-iS, 

Ji'Col, ii. 3. '^°Pi, cxix, iw— Vul^. '" Pa. jxiL 16. 



i, 



} 



.1 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 



BY 
THOMAS A KEMHS 



TR.\NSLATED BY 
BEV. WILLtAM BENTIAM 



L 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

The ireause *'OF the ImLiaiion of Christ" appears lo have been orig- 
LJially wmwn in Latin early in die fifieenth century, hs exact date and 
hs authorship are stilt a matter of dtbate. ^[anu5c^ipIs of tlie Latin ver- 
sion survive in considerable numbers all over Western Europe^ anti iheyj 
with the vast tist oi translations and of prinred editionsj testify to its 
almost unpralleled popularity. One scribe atiributos it to St, Bernard 
of Clairvaux; but tht facE thac ii comams a quotadon from St. Francis 
of Assisi, who was born thirty ycari afier the death of St, Bernard, dis- 
poses of this theory* In Enj^lund there exist many manuscripts of the 
first three books, called "Musica Ecciesiastica/' (requenily ascribed to the 
English mystic Waltt-r Hilton. Hut Hilton seems to have died in 1395, 
and there is no evidence of the existence af ihe work before 1400. Many 
manuscripts scattered throughout Europe ascribe the book to fean le 
Charlier de Gerson^ the great Chaneellor of die University of Paris, who 
was a leading %ure in the Church in the earlier parr of the fifteenth 
century. The most probable auihor, however^ especially when die in- 
iLTnal evidence is considered, is Thotnas Haemmerlein, known also as 
Thomas a Kempis, from his native town of K-empen, near the Rhine^ 
about forty miles north of Cologne. Haeramerlcinj who was born in 1379 
or 1380, was a member of die ordt^r of ihe Brothers of Common Life, 
and spent the last seventy years of his life at Mciuiu St. Agncs^ a monas- 
tery of Augustinian canons in the dioctse of Utrecht, Here he died on 
July 26, 1471, after an uneventful hfe spent in copying manuScripiSj 
readingj and composing^ and in ilie peaceful routine of monastic piety- 

With ihe exception of the Bible, no Chrisiian wriiing has had so wide 
a vogue or so sustained a popularity as this. And yei, in one sense, it is 
h^irdly an original wark ai all* lis structure it owes largely to die writings 
of the medieval mystics, and it$ ideas and phrases are a mosaic from 
the Bible and the Fathers of the early Church. But these elements are 
interwoven with such delicate skill and a religious feeling Ai once so 
ardent and so sound, that it promises to remain^ what it has been for five 
hundred years, the supreme call and guide to spiritual aspiration* 



J 



CONTENTS 

BOOK I 

PAG^ 

]. Of The fTnit^ticin fy! Christ, 2nd of Contempt of the Worid ^Jsd ^ 

jcs Vninit]?! **.*.,. i05 

IT. 01 tisinkint' humbly of Ont^Lli , ► ► - * ► t- * , *■ , m6 

III. OE the Knowftdi;tr □( Truth *.,-*. -3 i^ .♦ ^ ^ M? 

IV. Of Prudence in Ai:lioii ^ « , 1 e ^ h t - - - ^ ^ ^9 
V. 0( iht Rtradinc; of Holy Scriinurc . * -. i . v" .^ » ^ , JB-O 

VIh 01 InortJinacc Affocrions - * ^ *■**►*►. ^ * ^ - Jiff 

Vll. Of (\^}ns [rom Vain Hope nind Pride > * t h ..>.-. an 

V7T1. 0( the Dmj^^r oi too nauch rair^iliarity . ^ i +. , ., ^ . ^a- 

IX. Of Obed3cru:c and Suhft^ittun -.,..+ . ^ .. . aw 

X. Of the Dan^ef of SuperfJu^cy oi Words . , , i * ^ * M3 

XI. Of sMkinfi Pi-'icii oi Miod, and oC Spiritual Proj^t^H . . j + - 2JJ 

Xlt- OE tli*^ U5<>i of Adversity 215 

XJIF- Of ['nUcing Tcmptacian- . l . ^ ....... , 315 

XIV. On ai'otdmfi Bish ]LjJymi:n^ - -.*_-.,.* j*7 

XV. Of Works ol Chariljr , , ., , * h * * . - • - h ilS 

XVl- Of btiriny with die Taults of Othtri . * n ■ » il9 

XVIL Of ii RlUeJolj^ LjEc * • > ,* Md 

XVlll. Of the Example of ^hc M<>ty F^thefi - - . , , ^ , , . J3D 

XIX. Of ihc EiL-rcises of a Religious Man , . , al2 

XX. Of the Lovj2 of Solitude and Salcnut; , , , ^ ^24 

XXI. Of Compunction oE (itiTt . . x , t aa* 

XSJFh Of the Contemplntion of Human Miitry * ^ ^ , . h . , 318 

XXIII. Of MtdiLiiion upon Death .--*,,*>..., ^0 

XXIV. Of die ludEmeni and l^uniihment of tliE WLkcd ,-.-*♦ s^ 

XXV. Of the Zealous Ami^ndment oi our Whole life ^ - ^^ , , , 134 

BOOK II 

FACE 

AoMOSLtLO^^ CO^CLT^NING THE |S"?^E1^ LlFt * i + -f *■ * . + 3^8 

CHA^. 

L Of tEic Inward Life «^^^,^.+ ,^,^..+ ^8 

11. Of Lowl^' Stihinssion «:4«*.^«**^4 Ajp 

|[|. Of The Oood, l^cjceabl^^ Man x . .^ ^1 

|V_ Of a Pure Mind and t3]nple Intention . 143 

2D I 



202 CONTENTS 

CHftP, PACE 

V- 01 Self-Esteem *. ^ * * 143 

VIh Oi the Joy of a Good ConKicnce * ♦ 144 

Vll. Of lovinp Jesuj aEmvc aLI Things . . . . ^ * i ^ + , 245 

VIIL Of iht Intimate LflVe of Jcaiis f ***,*.. h , 216 

TX- Of tKt Lack of all Comfort - , ^.^ 1 .1* - . . * - 347 

X. 01 Gfatttude for the Grace of God ; 3 - . .. , ,v ^ 350 

XI. 01 the Fewneis oi ihi^yi wiio love ihe Cross of Jesus , ► ^ » aji 

XIL Of the R^>>j| Way of the Holy Cross ^ . . 253 

BOOK IJI 

PACE 

L Of the [nward VoEize of Chrisi ^o the Faithful Soul 256 

II. What the TrutSi saith mwarJIy wichom Nocse of Word^ , 259 

III. How all t^st Wfi^ds ^f Cod nre to he heard ^-ith Hui]iilit^\ and hoiv 

many corifid^r ^hcm not „, . .^ ^ ^ 26fl 

IVh How vf^ must walk in Truth and Hum]lic>' before God _ _ . . iSi 

V. Of the \^^ondcrfiil Power of the Divine Love 363 

VI. Of the Proving of the True Lovtr , ^ + n , 265 

V][. Of hJding^ our Grace under the Guard of HujrilJty * . . , . 266 

Vlll. Of i low Es^imatJon of Self in the Si^rhT of God 265 

!Xh Thai all Thin^fs are to be referred id God as thi; Final End , . . ifig 

X- That it is Sweet to de^pi^ chu W^rld and to wtve God - , . + 270 

XI. That the E^iris of cht Htrati arc to be EK^imincd and Governed - ::7^ 

Xn. Oi iho [flwafd Gtnwlh of Patience, and of the Stfugftlc against 

Evil Dwires + *^ * * * - 373 

XICL Of the Obedience of One in Lowly Subje^tioxt aEtcr the Example of 

Jczii^ ChrJit . . _ 274 

XIV, Of Meditation upon tht Kidttcn Jud^jmertts of Godp that we may 

not be lifted up becauje uf otif Well-doing ♦,**,. 275 

XVr How we muse Siand ind S|]f*jk in Hvcorhiug that ^vc deiire . . ^176 

XVI. That True Solace is to be sought in God alone . ♦ + ^ ^ * ^77 

XVII- Th,it all Cure is to be Cast upon God ^78 

XV(I|. Thar Temporal Miseries ar^ to be bornQ patitntly afar die iLXamplf 

of Christ 2j^ 

XIX. Of bearing Injuries^ nnd wht> sliall be approved as tn^ly Padent . 2B0 

XX. Oi Confc-^^inn of our infirmicy [ind of the Miseries of this Life . . aSi 
XXI. That we must Rest in God above all Good^ and Gifts .... aBs 

XX3L Of che Recollection of God's Manifold B<]nefits ,...,. aS^ 

XXIIJ' Of Four Thinyfi wfuch brin^ Great Peace - - . - * afifi 

XXiV, Of avoiding Curious Inquiry' into the E.itc of Another . . . , aS3 

XXV. WhcMin Firm Peace gf Heart and True Profit consist .... 2*8 

XXVI. of the Exdtatian of a Fee* Spirits which MujnbJe Prayer more 

deserveth ihan doth Frequent Rtjdiiijj' 290 



CONTENTS 203 

CHAP. PACE 

JiX^lL That Personal Lovo greatly hinJtrcth from tfie Highcsf Good 391 

XXVill. Afiainsi t^t^* TontEUts ol Doujctors . . 29^ 

XXD^. Hnw wbtn Trihulation camwh Wfi mtjsi call upon cind bic5s God . ^5:1 

XXX. Of M-^king Divln*! Fl^lp* jiinJ the Confidence of obiairtiEig^ Grace agj 

XX?^f^ Of iJicr Ntf;;kc:t oi every CfeiitujLiH ihat the Creator may be found 295 

XXXTL Of ScJi-denial and the i::i5iir^E ai^ay jlj Stifishnets 2^6 

XXXIII. Of Iji-stnibjlxry of the Hearty rtnd of Jirettin^ the Aim towards God 397 

XXXIV. Thu to Uitn who love^h God \s Sweet above nil Thb^s &nd in all 

TJiiti£& 298 

XJkXVn That there 15 no Security against Temptaliufl lii ihis U£e , ► . ifji> 

XXXVIr Against Vain Judgments of Men 300 

XXXVII. Of Ihirt ;ind Entire Resignation o£ S4;lffc for the obtaining Libertj' 

XXXMIL Of a Good Govtrnmcni in External Tliinjis, and uf having Recourse 

to GimI in Dangers 302 

XXXEX That Man irnJst not le [nimersed in Btj^ine^s joj 

XL. That Man hath no Good m HimiL-lf> and nothing whereoi to GLmy , 304 

XLL Of CoBtcntpt ot all Temporal Monuur - r , . - , , . m^- 

XLII. Thai our Peace is not to be j^lated in Mcrt f •■ ^, * - , , 306 

XLIIT. Against Vain and "Worldly Kno^vlujge .***♦. ^ , 307 

XLTV. Of ft^i iroublLns Oyrsolves about Om^vard Things - * ■ * r 30S 

XLV. That we must not believe Everyone, and Th,it \\"e are prone to fall 

in our Words . . . , + ^ . gog 

XLVI. Of havinj: Confidence in God ^vhcn Evil Words are cist at ti& 310 

XLVTL That all Troubles are to be endured for tht jjke of BUTnal Life . 312 

XLVIIJ. Of the Day of Eternity and of the Stfaitnes^es of this Life . 313 

XUXi Of the DeiJJre after Erernal Life^ and how Great BIe$singj are 

pronii^d to those who strive 313 

L. How a Desolate Man ought to carflmiE Mim^lf into the Hands of 

God ....«,-.«« * * . 317 

LT. That we must fiive Otirselves to Humble Works i^hen we art 

une^LuaE to those that are Lolty . . 310 

LII. That a M^n ought not to reckon Hin^elf wsjrihy of Gonsol^tioAj but 

more wonhy «f Chastisement *■,,,. ^ ^ . ^ , 321 

L!TI. That tl]e Grace of God does not ir>ln itscff to those whti mind 

tarthty Things * ^ *. . 3^^ 

LIV+ Of the Diverse Motion; of Nature and of Grace + 33.3 

LV. Of the Oirrtapiion oi Nature and the EJlicaey of Divine Graet . 31^ 

LVI. That we ought to deny Ourstlvts, and ta imitate Christ by Means of 

the Cross , , r . 3^8 

EVIL That a Man must not bt too much Cast Down when he faKetb inin 



some Fault 



3^9 



LVJU. Of Deeper Matttrs^ and God's Hidden Judgrrtents which :^r^ not to 

be Inquired into 33O 

UX. That aJI Hope and Tnj^t is to b* Fixed in God afont * - - h 33^ 



204 CONTENTS 

BOOK IV 
Of the S^CR^MfijaT Ok the Altar - - + , h 355 

CHAP, 

I. With how Greit Rcvortnct Christ must bo Received 335 

II. Thjt tlic Creatt^ei; and ChjrLty of God ii ^hown lo Men in ihc 



Sjcfsinicnt 



>i^ 



III. Tfiji j( is Prtifiiahle To Coiiimuni^iaTe ofcoa . h . . + + , 341 

IV, Thai m^ny tifKnJ Gifts :ire boslo^ved ujhjh thos? who Communicate 

V. Of the DJiiniry of this Sucramcot, and of ihcr Office of Jae PriDst . 3415 

VI. An Jnciuiry MiiMrnirt}; Prtpar^iiion for Con^niurtn>n 346 

VII. Oi the Ex^niijiaLinii oi Cons^ien^e :ind Purju^^t: of Amcftdinent j^fi 

Vlll. Of [ht: ObFndniq of Christ upoj^ the Cross, and of Pt^signatLon of Self 34^1 

IX* That w« ousht Lo ofJtr QurscUcs Jijd all that is Ours uj Gtx]p and 

Cf> Pray for all , , ., , ^ . ^ * . * ^ n 349 

S. That Holy ComtTLunion is not It^^htly to be oiutttc^d . * * * . j^o 

XI- That the BaJv and Dtood of Chrisi and the Holy Scriptures ars 

mojc nttt^sary tfi a Faithful S^>ul 353 

Xl[. That he v^hrt is abbut to CoiniiLuaic.iie with Christ oujjht to Prepare 

Himself wich Great Dih^^eniiu 35^ 

XI1[h Tiiac ihc Devout Enu] ought ivlth the whole heart «? yc^m after 

Union witli CEiribT in the S^cramtint ^ ^ h ^ -^ h h , 357 

JlIV_ Of ihc^ Fervtnt De^jj-L^ nf certain devout Per^onj ^cj f««ve the Body 

Hind Blood of Christ . . . _ ^58 

XV. TTi,it ihe Ccact of Devotion jj acquired by Humility and Setf-Denial 359 

XVI. Thai wti oujjht to lay open our Neceuities to Christ and tw require 

His Gnice , t >■ t ►--♦*--..** 3 - 360 

XVIT. Of Fervent Love anJ Vehement Desire of rect^i^in^ t-hrlsl ; ^ . 361 

XV3I1- That a M,in shcmid tial be a Curioiis Searcher of the Sacr.iincnt, hut -^ 

hunibfe Indcitor tif Christy suhniitling his Sense Co Holy FaLlii 363 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

THE FIRST BOOK 

ADMONITIONS PROFITABLE FOR THE 
SPIRITUAL LIFE 

CHAPTER I 

OF THE fMITATTON OF CHRIST^ aVd OF CONTEMPT OF THE WORLD 

AMD ALL ITS VAN'TTIES 

T" yE ihat foUoweth tne shall not wall{^ m darliness.^ saich ihe 
/ m Lord. These are the words of Christ; and diey teach us 
M M how far we must imiiaie His life and character, if we seek 
[rue illumination, and deliverance from all blindness of heart. Let 
it be our most earnest siudy, therefore^ to dwell upon [he life of 
Jesus Christ. 

2. His teaching surpasseth all teaching of holy men, and such 
as have Hi^ Spirit find therein the hidden rfJuiiFia.^ But there are 
many who, though they frequently hear the Guspel, yet feel but 
little longing after it, because they have not the mind of Christ. He^ 
therefore^ that will fully and with [rue wisdom understand the words 
o£ Christ, let him strive lo couform his whole life to that mind of 
Christ. 

3, What doth It profit thee to enter into deep discussion concern- 
ing [he Holy Trinity, if thou luck humility, and be thus displeasing 
to the TrinityP For verily it Is no[ deep words that make a man 
holy and upright" it is a good life which maketh a man dear to God. 
I had rather Eeel contrition than be skilful in the definition thereof. 
If ihou knewest the whole Bible» and the sayings of all the philoso- 
phers, what should all this profi[ thee wiihou[ the love and grace of 

'John viii. J2. -Revtlaxiuni ii. 17^ 



206 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

God? Vanily of i/anhtes, alt is i/aitity, save tu love God, and Him 
Dnfy la serve. That is the highesi; wisdom, to cast ihe world behind 
us, and 10 reach forward lo the heavenly kingdom. 

4, It is vanity then to seek after, and 10 trust in, the riches that 
shall perish, II is vanity, too, to covet honours, and to h£t up our- 
selves on high. It is vanity to follow [he desires of the flesh and be 
led by them, for this shall brin>^ misery at the last- It is vanity 10 
desire a long hfe, and lo have htile care for a good life- It is vanity 
to take thought only for the life which now is^ and not to look for- 
ward to the things which shall be hereafter. It is vanity to love that 
which quickly passeth away, and nor to hasten where eternal joy 
abiJeih, 

5- Be ofttimes mindful of tlie saying,' The eye is not satisfied with 
seeing, nor the car with hearing. Strive, therefore, to turn away thy 
heart from the love of the things that are seen, and to set it upon 
the things that are not seen. For they who follow after their own 
fleshly lusts, defile the conscience, and destroy the grace of God, 

CHAPTER II 

OF THINKING HUMBLY OF ONESELF 

Tmere is naturally in every man a desire to know, but vvhat 
profiteih knowledge without the fear of God? Better of a surety is 
a lowly peasant who serveth God, than a proud philosopher who 
watcheth the stars and neglecteth the knowledge of himself. He who 
knoweth himself well is vile in his own sight; neither regardeth he 
the praises of men. If I knew all the things that are in the world, 
and were not in charity, what should it help me before God, who is 
to jtLdge me according to my deeds? 

2. Rest from inordinate desire of knowledge, for therein is found 
much diitracdon and deceit. Those who have knowledge desire to 
appear learned, and to be called wise. Many things there are to know 
which profiieth little or nothing to the soul. And foolish out of 
measure is he who attendeth upon other things rather than those 
which serve 10 his soul^s health. Many words satisfy not the soul, 

^£i:clesia3tti i, 8. 



THE IMITATION' OF CHRIST 207 

f but a good life refresheth the mind* ^nd a pure conscience giveth 

r great confidence lowLsrds God- 

3. The greater and more complete thy knowledge^ the more ae- 

\ verely shall ihon be judged, unless (hou hasr lived holiiy. Therefore 

\ be not lifted up by any skill or knowledge thyt diou hast; but rather 

I fear concerning the kno^viedge which is given to thee, if it seemerh 

f to thee that thou knowesi many things, and understandest them well, 

I know also that there are many more things which thou knowest not. 

; Be not high-minded, but rather confess thine ignorance. Why de- 

; sirest thou to lifr thyself above another^ when there are found many 

\ more learned and more i^killcd in the Scripture than thou? If diou 

\ wiit know and learn anyihing with profit, love to be thyself unknown 

I and to be counted for nothings 

7 4. Thai is rhe highest and most profitable lesson, when a man 

I truly knowcth and judgeth lowly of himself. To account nothing of 

c one's self, and to think always kindly and highly of others, this is 

r great and perfect wisdom. Even shouldesL thou see thy neighbour 

i sin openly or grievously, yet thou oughfesr not to reckon thyself 

■ better than he, for thou knowest not how long thou shalt keep thine 

: integrity. All of us are weak and frail; hold ihon no man more 

' frail than thyself. 

\ CHAPTER !!! 

*' OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF TEUTtI 

i 

\ Happy is the man whom Trurb by itself doth teach, nor by figures 

!^ and transient words, but as it Js m itself/ Our own judgment and 

J feelings often deceive us, and we discern but little of the truth. What 

\^ doth it profit to argue about hidden and dark things^ concerning 

y which we shall not be even reproved in the judgment, because v^e 

i* knew them not? Oh, grievous folly, to neglect the things which are 

K profitable and necessary, and to give our minds to things which are 

I curious and hurtful! Having eyes, we see not. 

\ 2, And what have we to do with talk abont genus and species! 
He to whom the Eternal Word speaketh is free from multiplied 
questionings. From this One Word are all things, and all tilings 

'p5ilm xcWr I2i Nijiiil>ois >:li. S, 



1 



208 THE IMITATION OF CHKIST 

speak of Him; and [his is the Beginning which also speakftK unto 
us.' No man without Him understandeth or rightly judgeih. TJie 
man to whom all things arc one, who bringeth all ihings to one, who 
seeih all things in ono» he is able lo remain steadfast of spirit, and 
at resC in God. O God, who art the Truth, make me one with Thee 
in everlasting love- Ic wearieih me oftentimes to read and h&ten to 
many things; in Thee is all that 1 wish for and desire. Let all the 
doctors bold theit peace; let all creation keep silence before Thee: 
speak Thou aEonc to me- 

3- The more a man haih unity and simplicity m himself, the more 
things and the deeper things he understandeth; and that without 
labour^ because be receiveth the light of understanding from above. 
The spirit which is pure, sincere, and steadfast, is not distracted 
though Jt haih many works to do, because it doth all things to the 
honour of God, and slriveth to be free from all thoughts of self- 
seeking. Who is so full of hindrance and annoyance to thee as thine 
own undisciplined heart? A man who is good and devout arrangeth 
beforehand within his own heart ibe works which he hatb to do 
abroad; and so is not drawn away by the desires of his evil will, bui 
subjecteth everything to the judgment of right reason- Who hath a 
harder baiile lo fight than be who slriveth for self-mastery f And 
this should be otir endeavour, even to master self, and thus daily to 
grow stronger than self, and go on unto perfection. 

4- All perfection haih some imperfection joined to It rn this life, 
and all our power of sight is not without s<ime darkness- A lowTy 
knowledge of ihyielf is a surer way to God than the deep searchings 
of man's learning. Not that learning is to be blamed, nor the taking 
account of anything that is good; but a good conscience and a holy 
life is better than all. And because many seek knowledge rather than 
good living, therefore they go astray, and bear little or no fruit. 

5. O if they would give that diligence to the rooting out of vice 
and the planting of virtue which ihey give unto vain questionings: 
lliere had not been so many evil doings and stumbling-blocks among 
the laity, nor such ill living amons^ houses of religion. Of a surety, 
at the Day of Judgment it will he demanded of us, not what we have 
read, but what we have done; not how \veU we have spoken, but 

^Juhn viii, 25 (Vulg,), 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 209 

haw holily we have lived. Tell itiCt where now are all Ehose masters 
and [eachers, whom ihou knewest weU, whilst they were yet with 
you, and flourished in learning? Their stalls are now filled by others, 
who perhaps never have one thought concerning them. Whilst they 
lived ihey seemed to be somewhat, but now no one speaks o£ them. 
6, Oh how quickfy passeth the giory of the world awayl Would 
that their life and knowledge had agreed togeiherf For dien would 
they have read and inquired unto good purpose. How many perish 
through empty learning in this world, who care litiie for serving 
God. And because they love to be great more than to be humble, 
therefore they "Aflfc- become fain in thsir unaginationsl' He only 
is truly great, who hath great charity. He is truly great who deem- 
eth himself sma1I» and counteth all height of honour as nothing. He 
is the truly wise man, who coumeth all earthly things as dung that 
he may win Christ. And he is the truly learned man, who dooth the 
will of God> and forsaketh his own will< 

CHAPTER IV 

OF PRUDENCE IX ACTTO^ 

We must not trust every word of others or feeling within our- 
selves* but cautiously and patiendy try the matter, whether it be of 
God, Unhappily we are so weak that we find it easier to believe and 
speak evil of others, rather than good. But they that are perfect, do 
not give ready heed to every news-bearer, for they know man's 
weakness that it is prone to evil and unstable in words. 

2, This is great wisdom, not to be hasty in action, or stubborn in 
our own opinions, A part of this wisdom also is not to believe 
every word we hear, nor to tell others all that we heac^ even though 
we believe it. Take counsel with a man who is wise and of a good 
conscience; and seek to be instructed by one better than thyself, 
rather than to follow thine own inventions. A good life maketh a 
man wise toward God, and giveth him experience in many things. 
The more humble a man is in himself^ and the more obedient 
towards God, the wiser will he be in all things, and [he more shall 
his soul be at peace. 



i 



1 



210 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

CHAPTER V 

OF THE READING OF HOLY SCRTPTVRES 

It is Truth which we must look for in Hrily Writ* not cunning 
of words. All Scripture ought Lo be read in tlic spirit in which it 
W3.S written. We must rather seek for what is profitable in Scripture* 
than for wliat ministereih to subtlety in discourse. Therefore we 
ought to read books which are devotional and simple* as well as 
those which are deep and difiicult. And let not the weight of the 
writer be a siumb ling-block to thee, whether he be of liide or much 
learning, but let the love of the pure Truth draw thee to read^ Ask 
not, who hath said this or that* but look to what he says. 

2, Men pass away* but the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. 
Without respect of persons God speaketh to us in divers manners. 
Our own curiosity often hindcrcth us in the reading of holy writ- 
ings* when we seek to understand and discuss* where we should pass 
simply on. If thou wouldst profit by thy reading* read humbly* 
simply, honcsdy* and not desiring to win a character for learning. 
Ask freely, and hear in silence the words of holy men; nor be dis- 
pleased at the hard sayings of older men than thou, for they are not 
uttered without cause. 

CHAPTER VT 

OF INORDINATE AFFECTIONS 

Whemsohver a man desireth aught above measure, immediately 
he becomeih restless. The proud and the avaricious man are never 
at rest; while the poor and lowly of heart abide in the multitude of 
peace. The man who is not yei wholly dead to self* is soon tempted, 
and is overcome in small and trifling matters. It is hard for him 
who is weak in spirit, and still in part carnal and inclined to the 
pleasures of sense* to withdraw himself altogether from earthly de- 
sires. And therefore, when he wirhdrawetli himself from these, he 
js often sad, and easily angered too if any oppose his will. 

2. But if, on the other hand, he yield to his inclination, immedi- 
ately he is weighed down by the condemnation of his conscience; 



THE iMITATrON OF CHEIST 211 

for that he hath followed his own desire, and yet in no way attained 
the peace which he hoped for. For true pedce of hearE is to be found 
in resisting piission, not in yielding to it. And therefore there is no 
peace in the heari of a man who is carnal, nor in him who is given 
up to the things that are ivithout him* but only in him who is 
fervent towards God and living the life of the Spirit. 

CHAPTER Vll 

OF FLEEIN-a FROM VAIN HOPE AXD PRmE 

^ 

Vain' is the life of that man who putteth his trust in men or tn 
any created Thing. Be noc ashamed to be [he servant of others for 
the love of Jestii Chriii, and to be reckoned poor in this ]i£c^ Rest 
not upon ihysdf, but build ihy hope in God. Do what iiech in 
thy power, and God will help ihy good intent. Trust not in ihy 
learning, nor in the cleverness of any that lives, but rather trust in 
the favour of God, who reiisteth the proud and giveth grace to the 
bumble, 

2. Eoast nor thyself in thy riches if thou hast them, not In thy 
friends if they be powerful, but in God, who giveth all things» and 
in addition lo all things dcsireth to give even Himself, lie not 
lifted up because of thy strength or beauty of body, for with only 
a slight sickness it will fail and wither away. Be not vain of thy 
skilfulness or ability, lest thou displease God, from whom cometh 
every good gift which we have. 

3, Count not thyself belter than others, lest perchance thou appear 
worse in the sight of God, who knoweth what is in man. Be nor 
proud of ihy good works, for God's judgments are of another sort 
than the judgments of man, and what picaseth man is oftlimes 
displeasing to Him. Jf diou hast any good, believe that others have 
more, and so thou mayest preserve thy humility. It is no harm to 
thee if rhoti place thyself below all others; but it is great harm if 
thou place thyself above even one. Peace is ever with the humble 
man, but in the heart of the proud there is envy and continual wrath. 



i 



212 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

CHAPTER Vni 

OF THE DANGER OF TOO MUCH FAMILIARITY 

Op£K not ihinc heart to every man» but deal with one who is wise 
and feareth God. Be seldom with the young and with strangers. 
Be no: a flailerer o£ tlie rich; nor willingly seek the society o£ the 
great. Let thy company be the humble and the simplej the devotit 
and the gentle^ and let thy discourse be concerning things which 
edify. Be not familiar with any woman, bu: commend all good 
women alike umo God. Choose for tliy companions God and His 
Angels oniyT and flee from the notice of men. 

2. We must love all men, but not make close companions of all. It 
sometimes falleth out that one who is unknown to us is highly re- 
garded through good report of him^ whose actual person is never- 
theless unpleasicig to those who behold it- We someiimes think lo 
please others by our intimacy, and forthwith displease them the naore 
by the fauldness of character which they perceive in us. 

CHAPTER IX 
Of obehience and subjection 

It is verily a great diing to live in obedience, to be under au- 
thority^ and not to be at our own disposal. Far safer is it to live in 
subjection than in a place of authority. Many are in obedience from 
necessity rather than from love; these take it amiss, and repine for 
small cause. Not will they gain freedom of spirit, unless with all 
their hean they submit themselves for the love of God, Though 
thou run hither and thither, thou wilt not find peace, save In humble 
subjection to tile authority of him who is set over thee. Fancies 
about places aiid change of diem have deceived many. 

2, True it is that every man willingly followeih his own bent, and 
is the more inclined to those who agree with him. But if Chiist is 
amongst us, dicn it i^ necessary that we sometimes yield up our own 
opinion for the sake of peace. Who is so wise as to have perl^ect 
knowledge of all things? Therefore trust not too much to thine 
own opinion, but be ready also to hear the opinions of others- 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 213 

Though ihinc own opinion be good^ yet if for the love oE God thou 
forcgoeit if, and ToUowcst that of another, chou shaft the more profit 

thereby, 

3. Ofltimes I have heard rhat it is safer to hearken and to receive 
counsel than 10 give ii. It may also come to pass that each opinion 
may be good^ but to refnK to hearken to others when reason or 
occasion requireih ii, is a mark of pride or wilfulness. 

CHAPTER X 

OF THE DAN-GEK OP SUPEGFLUITY OF WOPJfS 

Avoid as far as thou canst the tumiJt of men; for calk concerning 
worldly things^ though it be innocendy underEakcn, is a hindrance, 
so quickly are we led captive and dchled by vanity. Many a time 1 
wish that 1 had held my peace, and had not gone amongst men. But 
why do we talk and gossip so eoncinuaHy, seeing that we so rarely 
resume our silence without &ome hurt done to our conscience? We 
like talking so much because we hope by our conversations to gain 
some mutual comfort, and because we seek to refresh our wearied 
spirits by variety of thoaghts. And we very wilUngly talk and think 
of those things which we love or desire, or else of those which we 
most dislike. 

2. But ab&l it is often to no purpose and in vain. For ttiis outward 
consolation is no small hindrance to the inner comfort which cometh 
from God. Therefore must we watch and pray that time pass not 
idly away. If it be right and desirable for thee to speak, speak things 
which are to edification. Evil custom and neglect of our real profit 
tend much to make us heedless of watching over our lips. Never- 
theless, devout conversation on spiritual things helpeth not a little 
to spiritual progress, most of all where those of kindred mind and 
spirit find their ground of fellowship in God. 

CHAPTER XI 

OF SEEKING PEACE OF MIND AND OF SPmiTUAL PROORFSS 

We may en)oy abundance of peace if we refrain from busying 
ourselves with the sayings and doings of others, and things which 



214 ^'^ IMITATION OF CHRIST 

concern not ourselves. How can he abide long time in peace who 
occupieth himself wich other men's matters^ and with things without 
himself^ and m&inwhile payeth little or rare heed to the sel£ wiihia? 
Blessed arc the single-hearted, for ihcy shnll have abundance of peace. 

2. How came it to pass that many o£ the Saints were so perfect, 
so contempbcive of Divine things? Because they sicatlfastly sought 
Lo moriify themselves from all worldly desires^ and so were enabled 
to cling ^vi[h their whole heart to God, and be free and at leisure 
for the thought of Him. We are too much occupied with our own 
affeclioni, and too anxious about transitory tbings. Seldom, loo, do 
we entirely conquer even a single fault, nor are we zealous for 
daily growth in grace. And so we remain lukewarm and unspiritual. 

3. Were we fully watchful of ourselves, and not bound in spirit to 
outward things, then might we be wise unto salvation, and make 
progress in Divine contemplation. Our great and grievous stum- 
bling-block is that, not being freed from our affections and desires, 
we strive not to enter into the perfect way of the Saints. And when 
even a little trouble befalleth us, too quickly are we casi: down, and 
fly to the world to give us comfort. 

4. If we would quit ourselves like men, and strive to stand firm 
in the battle, then should we see tile Lord helping us from Heaven. 
For He Himself is alway ready to help those who strive and who 
trust in Him; yea, He provideth for us occasions of striving, to the 
end that we may win the vicfory. If we look upon our progress in 
religion as a progress only in outward observances and forms, our 
devouiness will soon come to an end. But let us lay the axe to the 
very root of our life, diat, being cleansed from affections, we may 
possess our souls in peace. 

5. If each year should see one fault rooted out from us, wc should 
go quickly on to perfection. But on the contrary, we often fed that 
we were better and holier in the beginning of our conversion than 
after many years o£ profession. Zeal and progress ought to increase 
day by day; yet now it seemeih a great thing if one is able to retain 
some portion of his first ardour. If we would put some slight stress 
on ourselves at the beginning, then afterwards we should be able to 
do all things with ease and joy. 

6. It is a hard thing to break through a habit, and a yet harder 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 215 

thing to go contrary to our own wilL Yet if thou overcome not 
slight and easy obstacles^ how shalt thou overcome greater ones? 
Withstand chy wrll ai the beginning, and unlearn an evil habit, 
lest it lead thee little by little inco worse difficulties. Ob* if thou 
knewe^t what peace to thyself thy holy life should bring to thyself, 
and what joy to others, methinketh thou wouldst be more zealous 
for spiritual proHc* 

CHAPTER XII 

OF THE i;stS OF ADVEBSIXV 

^ - 

It is good for us that we sometimes have sorrows and adversities, 
for [hey often make a m:in lay to heart th:Lt he is only a stranger 
and sojournerT and may not put his trust in irny worldly thing. It 
is good that we sometimes endure coniradicdons^ and are hardly 
and unfairly judged^ when we do and mean what is good. For these 
things help us to be humble, and shield us from vain-glory. For 
then we seek the more earnestly the witness of God, when men speak 
evil of us falsely, and give us no credit for good, 

3. Therefore ought a man to rest wholly upon God, so that he 
needelh not seek much comfort at the hand of nien. When a man 
who feareih God is afflicted or tried or oppressed with evil tlioughts, 
then he seeth that God is the more necessary utito him^ since widiout 
God he can do no good thing. Then he is heavy of heart, he groan- 
etb, he crtcih out for the very disquietness of his heart. Then he 
groweth weary of life, and would fain depart and be with Christ. 
By all this he is taught that in the world ihere can he no perfect 
security or fulness of peace, 

CHAPTER XllI 

Of R^ISTING T^fPTATlON 

So long as we live in the world, we cannot be without trouble and 
trial. Wherefore it is written in Job, The life of man upon the earth 
c is a triaV And therefore ought each of us to give heed concerning 



2l6 THE IMITATION OF CHKIST 

trials and Eemptn.[ion&, and watth unto prayer^ lest the devil find 
occasion to deceive; for ht? never sleepeth^ but goeth about seeking 
whom he tiujy devour. No man is so perCcct in holiness chat he 
hath never temptations, nor can we ever be wholly free from them^ 

2. Yet, notwithstanding, temptations turn greatly unto our profit, 
even ihough ihey be great and hard to bearj for through them we 
are humbled, purified, instructed. All Saints have passed through 
much tribulation and temptaiion, and have profiled thereby. And 
they who endured nuc temptation became reprobate and fell away. 
There is no posidon so sacred, no place so secret, that it is without 
temptations and adversities, 

3. There is no man wholly free from temptations so long as he 
liveth, because we have the root of temptation within ourselves, 
in that we are horn in concupiscence. One temptation or sorrow 
passcth, and another cnmeih; and always we shah have somewhat 
to suffer^ for we have fallen from perfect happiness. Many who 
seeli lo fly from temptations fall yet more deeply into them. By 
flight alone we cannot overcome, but by endurance and true humil- 
ity we are made stronger than all our enemies. 

4. He who only re,'iisteth outwardly and puUeth not up by the root, 
shall profit htde; nay, rather temptations will return to him the 
more quickly, and will be the more terrible. Little by little, through 
patience and longs uiTe ring, thou shak conquer by the help of God, 
rather than by violence and thine own strength of will. In the midst 
of temptation often seek counsel^ and deal not hardly with one , 
who is tempted, but comfort and strengthen him as thou wouldest ! 
have done unto diyself- ! 

5. The beginning of all temptations to evil is instability of tem- 
per and want of trust in God; for even as a ship without a helm is 
tossed about by the waves, so is a man who is careless and infirm i 
of purpose tempted, now on this side, now on that. As fire testeih 
iron, so doth temptaiion the upriglK man. Oftentimes we know not 
what strength we have; but temptation revealeth to us what we are* 
Nevertheless, we must watch, especially in the beginnings of temp- 
tation; for then is the foe the more easily mastered, when he is not 
suffered to enter within the mind, but is met outside the door as 
soon as he hath knocked. Wherefore one saith, 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 217 

Check [he beginnings; once thau mighi'si have cured. 
But now 'ii$ past thy skill) too long hath it endured. 

For first comeih 10 ibe mind the simple suggestion^ then the strong 
imagination, afterwards pleasure^ evil affection, assent. And so iitde 
by Iitde the enemy eniereth in altogether, bec:iuse he was not re- 
sisted at the beginning. And the longer a man delayeth his resist- 
ance, the weaker he groweih, and the stronger groweth the enemy 
against him. 

6. Some men suJTer iheir most grievous temptations in the begin- 
ning of their conversion, some at the end- Some are sorely tried 
their whole life long. Some there are who are tempted but lightly, 
according to the wisdom and justice of the ordering of God^ who 
knoweth tlie character and circumstances of men, and ordereth all 
things for the welfare o£ His tlect. 

7. Therefore we ought not to despair when we are tempted, but 
the more fervently shonld cry unto God, that He wiTl vouchsafe to 
help us in all our iribulationi and that He willj as St, Paul sailh, 
Tt'iiis the lemptiition maf^c a way lo ctcupe that we may be able to 
bear it^ Let us therefore humble ourselves under the mighty hand 
of God in all temptation and trouble, for He will save and exalt such 
as are of an humble spirit. 

K. In temptations a[id troubles a man is proved, what progress 
he hath made, and therein is his reward the greater, and his virtue 
doth the more appear. Nor is it a great thing if a man be devout 
and zealous so long as he suffereth no affliction; but if he behave 
himself patiently in the time of adversity, then is there hope of 
great progress. Some are kept safe from great temptations, but are 
overtaken in those which are little and common, that the humilia- 
tion may teach them not to trust to themselves in great things, being 
weak in small things. 

CHAPTER XIV 

ON AVOIDING BASH JUiXJMEKT 

Look well unto thyself, and beware that thou judge not the doings 
of others. In judging others a man laboureih in vain; he often 

'1 Coridihi^iits x. 12,. 



k. 



2t8 thi: imitation of cmiST 

erreih, inid easily fallcth into sin; but In judging and esamining 
himself he ahvoys bboureth to good purfHJSp. According as a 
matter touch<^[h otir fancy» so oftentimes do we judge of it; for 
easily do we fail of true judgment because of our own personal 
feeling. !f God were always the sole objeci of our desire, we should 
the less easily be troubled by the eniug judgment of our fancy. 

2. But often some secret thought lurking within u.s, or even some 
outwjr^J circumstance^ turneth us aside. Many are secredy seeking 
their own ends in what they do, yet know it not. They seem to 
iive in good peace of mind so long as things go well with ihem, and 
according to their desires, but if their desires be frustrated and 
broken, immediately (hey are shaken and displeased. Diversity of 
feelings and opinions very often brings about dissensions between 
friends, between countrymen, between religions and godly men. 

3- Established custom is not easily relinquished, and no man is 
very easily led to see with the eyes of another. If thou rest more 
upon thy own reason or experience rhan upon the power of Jesus 
Christ, thy light shall come slowly and hardly; for God willeth us 
to be perfecdy subject unto Himself, and all our reason to be exalted 
by abundant love towards Him, 

CHAPTER XV 

OF WORKS OF CHARITY 

For no worldly good whatsoever, and for the love of no man, must 
anything be done which is evil^ but for the help of the suJfering a 
good work must sometimes be postponed, or be changed for a bet- 
ter; for herein a good work is not destroyed, but improved. Without 
charily no work profiteihT but whatsoever is done in charicy, how- 
ever small and of no reptitalion it be, bringeth forth good fruit; 
for God verily considereth what a man is able to do, more than the 
greatness of what he doth. 

2. He doth much who loveth much. He doth much who doth 
well. He doih well who ministereth to the public good rather than 
to his own. Oftentimes that seemeth to be charily which is rather 
carnality^ because it springerh from natural iQclination, self-will, 
hope of repayment, desire of gain. 



f 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 219 

3, He who hath true and perfect charity, in no wise seeketh his 
own good, huL desircth that God alone be altogelKec glorified. He 
envieth none, because he iongeth for no selfish joy; nor doth he 
desire to rejoiee in himself, but longeth to be blessed in God as the 
highest good. He ascribeth good [0 none save lo God only, the 
Fountain whence all good proceedeth, and the End, the Peaee^ the 
joy of all Saincs. Oh, he who hath but a spark of true charity, hath 
verily learned that all worldly things are full of vanity. 

CH^VPTER XVJ 

OF BEARING wmi THE FAULTS OF OTHEES 

Those things which a man cannot amend in hijiiself or in others, 
he ought patiently to bear, until God shall otherwise ordain. Be- 
think [hee that perhaps it is better for thy trial and patience, without 
which our merits arc but little worth. Nevertheless thou oughtest, 
when thou findeth such impediments, to beseech God that He would 
vouchsafe to sustain thee^ that thou be able to bear them with a 
good will. 

3, If one who is once or twice admonislied refuse to hearken, 
strive not wldi him, but commit all to God, that His will may be 
done and His honour be shown in His servants, for He knoweth 
well how to convert the evil unto good. Endeavour to be parient in 
bearing with other men's faults and infirmities whatsoever they 
he, for thou thyself also hast many things which have need to be 
borne with by others. If thou canst not make thine own sel£ what 
thou desireth, how shair thou be able to fashion another to thine 
own liking. We are ready to see others made perfect, and yet we 
do not amend our own shortcomings, 

3, We will that others be straitly corrected, but we will not be 
corrected ourselves- T\\e freedom of others displeaselh us, but we 
" arc dissjtished that our own wishes shall be denied us. We desire 
- rules 10 be made restraining orhcrs, but by no means will we sulTer 
i ourselves to be restrained. Thus therefore doth it plaitdy appear 
-. how seldom we weigh our neighbour in the same balance with our- 
^ selves. If all men were perfect, what then should we have to suffer 
"^ from others for God? 



hTof 



220 THE IMITATION OF ClLElST 

4- But now hath God thus ordained, that we may learn to bear 
one anothcr^s burdens, because none is withour defect, none without 
a burden, none sufficient of himself, none wise enough of himself; 
but it behoveih us to bear with one another, to comfort one another, 
to help, instruct, admonish one another. How much strength each 
man hath is beit proved by occasions of adversity: for such occasions 
do not make a man frail, but show of what temper he is. 

CHAPTER XV!I 

OF K RELIGIOUS LIFE 

It behoveth thee to leiirn to mortify thyself in many things, if 
thou wilt hve in amity and concord with either men. It is no small 
thing to dwell in a religious community or congregation, and to 
hve there without complaint, and therein to remain faithful even 
unto death. Blessed is he who h^ith lived a good life in such a body, 
and brought it to a happy end. If thou wilt stand fast and wilt profit 
as thou oughiest, hold thyself as an exile and a pilgrim upon the 
earth. Thou wilt have to be counted as a fool for Christ, if thou 
wilt lead a religious life. 

2, The clothing and outward appearance are of small account; 
It is change of character and entire mortification of the aiTections 
which make a truly religious man. He who scekcth aught save 
God and the health of his soul, shall find only tribulation and sor- 
row. Nor can he sfiind long in peace, who striveih not to be least 
of all and servant of all. 

3. Thou art calTed to endure and to labour, not to a life of ease 
and trifling talk. Here therefore are men tried as gold in the fur- 
nace. No man can stand, unless with all his heart he will humble 
himself for God*s sake. 

CHAPTER XVni 

OF THE EXAMPLE OF Til^ HOLY FATHERS 

CoNSTOER now the lively examples of the holy fathers, in whom 
shone forth real perfectncss and religion, and thou shalt see how 
litde, even as nothing, is all that we do. Ah! What is our life when 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 221 

compared \o iheirsP They, sjinEs and friends o£ Christ as they were, 
served [he Lord in hunger and thirst, in cold and nabedne&s, in 
labour and weariness* in watchings and fastings^ in prayer and holy 
meditadons^ in petiecudons and much rebuke. 

2. O how mjny ai^d grievous tribubtions did the Apostles^ Mar- 
tyrs, Confessors, Virgins, endure; and all others who would walk 
in the fcxustcps of Christ. For they hated their souls in this world 
that ihey might keep them unto life eternal, O how sirict and re- 
tired a life was that of the holy fathers who dwelt in the deserlf 
what long and grievous temptations (hey did suffer! how often were 
they assaulted by l!ie enemy! what frequent and fervid prayers did 
They oiler unto God! what strict fasts did diey endure! what fervent. 
zeal and desire after spirimal profit did they njanifest! how bravely 
did they fight tliat iheir vices might not gain the masceryl how en- 
tirely and steadfasdy did they reach after GodT By day they la- 
boured^ and at night they gave themselves ofttimes unto prayer; yea, 
even when tliey were labouring they ceased not from mental prayer. 

3, They spent their whole time profitably; every hour seemed 
short for redrement with God; and through the great sweetness of 
contemplation, even the need of bodily refreshment wa? forgotten. 
They renounced all riches, dignities, honours, friends, kinsmen; they 
desired nothing from the world; they ate ihe bare necessaries of life; 
they were unwilling to minister to the body even in necessity. Thus 
were they poor in earthly things, but rich above measure in grace 
and virtue. Though poor to the outer eye, within diey were filled 
with grace and heavenly benedictions. 

4. They were strangers to the worlds but unto God they were as 
kinsmen and i:riends. They seemed unto themselves as of no reputa- 
tionj and in the world's eyes contemptible; but in the sight of God 
they were precious and beloved. They stood fa^t in true humility, 
they lived In simple obedience, they walked in love and patience; 
and thus they waxed strong in spirit, and obtained great favour 
before God. To all religious men ihey were given as an example, 
and they otight more to provoke us unto good livings than the num- 
ber of the lukewarm tempreth to carelessness of life. 

5, O how great was the love of all religious persons ar the ht^ 
ginning of this sacred insdtutioni O what devoutness of prayer! 



222 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

what rivalry in holiness! what strict discipline was observed! what 
reverence :ind obedience under the rule of the masfor showed diey 
in all things! The traces ol them that remain until now testify 
that they were truly holy and perfect men^ who fighting so bravely 
trod the world underfoot. Now a man is counted great if only he 
be not a transgressor, and if he can only endure with patience what 
he hath undertaken. 

6. O the coldness ;ind negligence of our times, that we so quickly 
decline from ihe former love, and it is become a weariness to live, 
because of sloth and lukewarmness. May progress in holiness nor 
wholly fall asleep in ihce, who many times hast seen so many exam- 
ples of devout men! 

CHAPTER XIX 

Ot" THE EXERCISES OF A RELIUIOUS MAN 

The life of a Christian ought to be adorned with all virtues^ that 
he may be inwardly what he outwardly appeareth unto men. And 
verily it should be yet better within than without, for God is a dis- 
cerner of our heart. Whom we must reverence with all our hearts 
wheresoever we are, and walk pure in His presence as do the angels. 
We ought daily to renew our vows, and to kindle our hearts to zeal, 
as if each day were the first day oE our conversion, and to say, "Help 
me, O Godj in my good resolutions, and in Thy holy service, and 
grant that this day 1 may make a good beginning, for hitherto 1 
have done noihingi" 

2. According to our resolution SO is the rate of our progress, and 
much diligence is needful for him ivho luould make good progress. 
For if he who reyjlvcth bravely ofientinies falleth short, how shall 
it be with him who resolved^ rartly or feebly? But manifold causes 
bring iibout abandonment of our resolution, yei a trivial omission 
of holy exercises can hardly be made without some loss to us. The 
resoluiion of the righteous dependeth more upon the grace of God 
than upon their o^vn wisdom; for in Him they always put their 
trust, whatsoever they Lake in hand. For man proposethj but God 
disposeih; and sJi£ way of a man is not in himsdj} 



THE IMITATION" OF CHRIST 223 

3, If a holy exercise be somedmes omiiied for the sake of some 
act o£ piety» or of some brotherly kindness, it can easily be taken 
up afterwards; but if it be neglected ihrough distaste or slothfu!- 
nessj then is it sinful^ and ihe ni>schief will be fek. Strive as ear- 
nestly as \^'e may* ive shjll still fait short in many things. Always 
should some distinct resolution be made by us; andj most of all, 
we must strive against those sins which most easily beset us. Both 
our outer and inner life should be siraiily examined and ruled by 
us, because both ha^'e to do with our progress. 

t^. If thou canst not be always examining thyself, thou canst a: 
certain seasons^ and at least twice in the day, at evening and at 
morning, Zn the morning make thy resolves^ and in the evening 
int^uirc into thy life» how thou hast sped to-day in word, deed, and 
thought; for in these ways thou hast often perchance offended God 
and thy neighbour. Gird up ihy loins like a man against the as5aulis 
of the devil; bridle thine appedte, and thou wilt soon be able to 
bridle every inclination of the flesh. Be thou never without some- 
thing to do; be reading, or wridng, or praying, or meditating, or 
doing something that is useful to the community. Bodily exercises, 
however, must be undertaken with discietioUj nor are they to be 
used by all alike. 

5. The dudes which arc nor common to all must not be done 
openly, but are safest carried on in secret. But take heed that thou 
be not careless in the common duties, and more devout in the secret; 
but faithfully and honesdy discharge the duties and commands 
which lie upon thee, then afterwards, i£ thou hast still leisure, give 
thyself to thyself as thy devotion leadeth thee. All cannot have one 
exercise, but one suiteth better to this man and another to that. 
Even for the diversity of season different exercises are needed, some 
suit better for feasts, some for fasts. We need one kind in time o£ 
temptations and others in time of peace and quietness. Some aie 
suitable to our times o£ sadness, and others when we are joyful in 
the Lord. 

6. When we dia;v near the time of the great feasts, good exer- 
cises should be renewed, and the prayers of holy men more fer- 
vently besought. We ought to make our resolutions from one Feast 
Co another, as if each were the period of our departure from thii 



224 "^^^ IMITATION OF CHRIST 

worlds aod of entering into the eternal feast. So ought we to prepare 
ourselves earnestly at iolemo seasons, and the more solemnly to 
live, and To keep straighlest watch upon each holy observance^ as 
though we were soon to receive the reward of our labours at the 
hand of God, 

7. And if this be deferred, let ns believe ourselves to be as yet 
ill-prepared, and unworthy as yet of the glory which shall be re- 
vealed in us ai Uie appointed season; and let us study to prepare 
ourselves the belter for our end. Btssied is that servant, as the 
Evangelist Luke hath it, whom, when the Lord corneth Hs shall 
fnd watching. Verily I say unto you He will ma^e him ruler over 
alt that He hath^ 

CHAPTER XX 

OF IU£ LOVE Of SOLIXLDE AND SlLEN'CE 

Seek a suitable time for thy n]e<?itation» and think frequently of 
rhe mercies of God to thee. Leave curious questions. Study such 
matters as bring thee sorrow for sin rather than amuseinent. If thou 
withdraw thyself from trifling conversation and idle goings about^ 
as well as from novelties and gossip, ihou shalt find thy time suffi- 
cient and apt for good meditation. The greatest saints used to avoid 
as far as they could the company of menj and chose to hve in secret 
with God. 

2. One hath said» **As oft as I have gone among men, so oft have 
I returned less a man/' This is what we often experience when we 
have been long time in conversation. For it ts easier to be alto- 
gether silent than it is not to exceed in word, Tt is e,isier to remain 
hidden at home than to keep sufficient gu,ird upon thyself out of 
doors. He, therefore, that seeketh to reach that which is hidden and 
spiritual, must go with Jesus "apart from the multitude.^^ No man 
safely goeth abroad who loveth not to rest at home. No man safely 
talkeih but he who loveth to hold his peace. No man safely ruleth 
but he who Tovcth to be subject. No man safely commandeth but 
he who loveth to obey. 

3. No man safely rejoiceth but he who hath the testimony of a good 



• jj 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 225 

conscience witliin liimself. The boldness of tKe Saints was always 
full of the fear o£ God. Nor were they the less earnest and humble 
in themselvesj becnuse diey shone forth with great virtues and grace. 
But the boldness of wicked men sprmgeth from pride and pre- 
sumption, and ar (he last Eurneth to their own confusion. Never 
promise thyself security Jn this life, howsoever good a raonk or 
devout a solitary ihou seemest. 

4. Often those who stand highest in the esteem of men, fall the 
rnore grievously because of their over great confidence. Where- 
fore it is very prolitable unto many that they should not be without 
invkiard temptation, but should be frequently assaulted, lest they be 
over conEident, lest they be indeed lifted up into pride, or else lean 
too freely upon the consolations of the world. O how good a con- 
science should that m:in keep, who never sought a joy that passeth 
away, who never became entangled with the world! O how great 
peace and quiet should he possess, who would cast oil all vain care, 
and think only of healthful and divine things, and build his whole 
hope upon God! 

5. No man is worthy of heavenly consolation hut he who hath 
diligently exercised himself in holy compunction. If thou will feel 
compunction within thy heart, enter into thy chamber and shut OUC 
the tumults of the world, as it is written, Commune ufith your own 
heart in your otr/n chamber and be stitl} In retirement thou shah 
find whac often thou will lose abroad. Retirement, if thou continue 
therein, groweth sweet, but if thou keep not in it, begeiteih weari- 
ness. If in the beginning of ihy conversation thou dwell in it and 
keep it well, it shall afterwards be to thee a dear friend, and a most 
pleasant solace. 

6. In silence and quiet the devout soul goeih forward and learn- 
eth the hidden things of the Scriptures. Therein frndeth she a 
fountain of tears, wherein to wash and cleanse herself each night, 
that she may grow the more dear to her Maker as she dwelleth the 
further from all worldly distraction. To hrm who withdraweth him- 
self from his acquaintance and friends God with His holy angels 
will draw nigh. It is better to be unknown and take heed to oneself 

' Psalm Lv. ^. 



■>■. 



226 THE IMITATION' OF CHRIST 

than lo neglect oneself anJ wort wonders. It is praisewortKy for a 
religious man to go seldom abrond, to fly from being seen^ to have 
no desire to see men. 

y. Why wouldest thou see what thou mayest not have? The 
It/odd pasieth away and the tust theicoj. The desires o£ sensuality 
draw tEiee abroad, but when an hour is past, what dost thou bring 
home, but a weight upon thy conscience and distracLion of heart? 
A merry going forth biingcth often a sorrowful return^ and a merry 
evening maketh a sad morning? So doth all carna! joy begin pleas- 
antly^ but in the end it gnaweth away and destroyeth. What canst 
thou see abroad which thou secst not at home? Behold the heaven 
and the earth and the elements, for out of these are all things made. 

%. What canst thou see anywhere which can continue long under 
the sun? Thou believest perchance that thou shalt be satisfied^ but 
ihou wilt never be able to attain unto this. IE thou shouldesl see all 
things before thee at once, what would it be but a vain vision? Lift 
up thine eyes to God on high, and pray that iby sins and negli- 
gences may be forgiven. Leave vain things to vain men, and mind 
thou the things which God hath commanded thee. Shut thy door 
upon thee, and call unto thyself Jesus thy beloved. Remain with 
Him in thy chamber, for thou shak not elsewhere find so great 
peace. If thou hadst not gone forth nor listened to vain talk, thou 
hadst better kept thyself in good peace. But because it sometimes 
delighteth thee to hear new things, thou must therefore suEfer trouble 
of heart. 

CHAPTER XXI 



OP COMPtJN'CTION OF HEABT 

If thou wilt make any progress keep thyself in the fear of God, 
and long noi to be too free, but restrain all thy senses under disci- 
pline and give not thyself up to senseless mirth. Give thyself to 
compunction of heart and thou shall find devotion. Compunction 
openeth the way for many good things, which dissoluteness is wont 
quickly to lose. It is wonderful that any man can ever rejoice heart- 
ily in this life who considereth and weigheth his banishment, and 
the manifold dangers which beset his souh 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 227 

2. Through lightness of heart and neglect of our shortcomings 
we feel nor the sorrows of our sou!, but often vainly laugh when we 
have good cau^c to weep. There is no true Hberty nor real joy» save 
in the fear of God wirh a good conscience. Happy is he who can 
cast away every cause of distraction and bring himself to the one 
purpose of holy compunction. Happy is he who putteih away from 
him whatsoever may stain or burden his conscience. Strive man- 
fully; custom is overcome by custom. If thou knowest how to lei 
men aloncj they wilt gladly let thee alone ro do thine own wurks, 

3. Busy not thyself with the affairs of others, nor entangle thyself 
with the business of great men. Keep always thine eye upon thy- 
self first of all, and give advice to thyself specially before all thy 
dearest friends. If thou hast not the favour of men, be not thereby 
cast down, but let thy concern be that thou holdest not thyself so 
well and circumspectly, as bccometh a servant of God and a devout 
monk. It is often belter and safer for a man not to have many com- 
forts in this life, especially those which concern the flesh. But thji 
we lack divine comforts or feel them rarely is to our own blame, 
because we seek not compunction of heart, nor utterly cast awjy 
those comforts which are vain and worldly. 

4. Know thyself to be unworthy of divine consolation, and worthy 
rather of much irjbulation. When a man hath perfect compunction, 
then all the world is burdensome and bitter to him. A good man 
will find sufficient cause for mourning and weeping; for whether he 
considereth himself, or pondereth concerning his neighbour, he 
knoweth that no man liveth here without tribulation, and the more 
tlioroughly he considereth himself, the more thoroughly he gricv- 
eth. Grounds for just grief and inward compunction there are in 
our sins and vices, wherein we lie so entangled that we arc but 
seldom able 10 contemplate heavenly things, 

5. If thou thoughtest upon thy death more often than how long 
thy life should be, thou wouldest doubtless strive more earnesdy to 
improve. And if ihou didst seriously consider the future pains of 
hell, I believe thou wouldest willingly endure toil or pain and fear 
not discipline. But because these things reach not the heart, and we 
still love pleasant things, therefore we remain cold and miserably 
indifferent. 



1 



228 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

6. Ofienrimes it is from poverly of spirit that the wreEchea body 
is so easily led to complain. Pray therefore humbly unto the Lord 
that He will give thee the spirit oi compunction and say in the 
language of the prophet^ Feed me, O Lord, tvith bread of iears, and 
gif£ me plenteousness of tears to drint^} 

CHAPTER XXII 

ON THE COVTEMPLATlOV OF HUMAN MISERY 

Thou an miserable wheresoever thou an, and whithersoever ihou 
turoest, unless thou turn thee to God. Why art thou disquieted 
because it happeneth not to thee according to thy wishes and de- 
sires? Who is he that hath everything according to his wtil? Neither 
I, nor thou, nor any man upon the earth. There is no man in the 
world free from [rouble or anguish, [liongh he wae King or Pope. 
Who is he who hath [he happiest lotP Even he who is strong to 
sulTer j^mewhat for Cod, 

2. There are many foolish and unstable men who say, "See what 
a prosperous life that m:tn hath, how rich and how great he is, how 
powerful, how exahed " But lift up thine eyes to ihe good things of 
heaven, and thou shalt see that all these worldly things are nothing, 
they are utterly uncertain, yea, they are wearisome, because they 
are never possessed without care a[id fear. The happiness of man lieth 
no: in the abundance of temporal things hut a moderate portion 
sufliceth him. Our life upon eardi is veriiy wretchedness. The more 
a man desirerh to be spiritual, the more bitter doth the present life 
become [o him; because he the better uciderstandeth and sceih the 
defects of human corruption. For to eat, to drink, to watch, to 
sleep, to rest, to labour, and to be subject to the oiher necessities 
o£ nature, is truly a great wre[chedness and afflictron to a devout 
man, who would hun be released and free from all sin, 

3. For [he inner man is heavily burdened with the necessities of 
the body in this world. Wherefore the prophet devou[!y prayeib lo 
be freed from them, saying. Deliver me from tny necessities, 
Isrd} But woe lo those who know not their own misery, and yet 
greater woe 10 those who love this miserable and corruptible life. 

' T'^alm IicsLv. 5. ^Psalm ssv. 17, 



1 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 229 

For to such 3 degree do some cling 10 it (even chough by bbouring 
or begging they scarce procure what is necessary tor subsisteace) thai 
]£ ihey tniglit live here always, they would care nothing for the 
Kingdom of God. 

^. Oh foolish and faithless of heart, who lie buried so deep in 
worldly Lhings, that [hey relish nothing save the things of ihe flesh! 
Miserable ones! they will 100 sadly find out at the la&t^ how vile and 
worthless was th:it which they loved. The saints of God and all 
loyal friends o£ Christ held as nothing the things which pleased the 
fiesh, or those which flourished in this life, but their whole hope 
and aJlection aspired to the things which are above. Their whole 
desire was borne upwards to everlasting and invisible things, lest 
they should be drawn downwards by the love of things visible. 

5. Lose not, brother, thy loyal desire of progress to things spiritual. 
There is yet time, the hour is not past. Why wilt thou put ofl thy 
resolution? Arise, begin this very mornent, and say, "Now is the 
time to do: now is the time to fight, now is the proper lime for 
amendment," When ihou art ill at ease and troubled, then is the 
time when ihou art nearest unio blessing. Thou must go through 
firs and ti/ntcr thai God may bring thee into a wealthy place. Unless 
thou put force upon thyself, thou wilt not conquer thy faults. So 
long as we carry about with us ibis frail body^ we cannot be with- 
out &in, we cannot live without weariness and trouble. Gladly would 
we have rest from all misery; but because through sin we have lost 
innocence, we have lost also the true happiness. Therefore must we 
be patient, and wait for the mercy of God, until this tyranny be over- 
past, and this mortality be swallowed up of life. 

6. O how great is the fraiky of man, which is ever prone to evil! 
To-day thou confesses! thy sins, and lo-morrow thou commitLest 
again the sins thou didst confess. Now dost thou resolve to avoid a 
fault, and within an hour thou behavest thyself as if thou hadsr 
never resolved at all. Good cause have we therefore ro htimble our- 
selves, and never to think highly of ourselves, seeing that we are 
so frail and unstable. And quickly may that be lost by our negli- 
gence, which by much labour was hardly attained through grace. 

7. What shall become of us at the end, if at the beginning we 
are lukewarm and idle? Woe unto us, if we choose to rest, as though 



23^^ THE IMITATION OF CHElST 

it were a lime of peace and security^ while as yei no sigo appeareth 
in our life of true holiness. Rather had we need that we might 
begin yet afresh, like good novices, to he instructed unio good liv- 
ing, if hnply there might be hope of some future amendment and 
greater spiritual increase. 

CHAPTER XXIIl 



OF MEDITATION IS TON DEATlt 

Very quickly \v\l\ there be an end of thee here; take heed there- 
fore how it will be with thee in another world. To-day man is, and 
[Q-morrow he will be seen no more. And beinij removed out of 
sight, quickly also he is out of mind, O die dulness and hardness 
of man's hean» which ihinketb only of the present, and looketh not 
forward to the future. Thou oughtesc in every deed and diought 
so to order thyself, as if ihoti wert To die this day. If thou hadst a 
good conscience thoa wouldii not greatly fear death. It were belter 
for thee lo watch against sin, than to fly from death. If to-day thou 
art not ready, how shak thou be ready to-morrow? To-morrow is 
an uncertain day; and how knowest tiiou that thou shalt have & 
to-morrow? 

a. What doih it profit to live long, when we amend so Utde? 
Ah[ long life doih not always amend, but ofien the more increaseth 
guilt. Qh that we might spend a single day in tliis world as it ought 
to be spent! Many there are who reckon the years since they were 
converted, and yet oftentimes how little is the fruit thereof. If it is 
a fearful thing to die, it may be perchance a yet more fearful thing 
to live ioi]g. Happy is the man who hath the hour of his death 
ah^'ays before his eyes* and daily prepareth himself to die. If thou 
hast ever seen one die^ consider diar thou also shalt pass away by 
the same road. 

3. When it is morning reflect that it may be thou shah not see the 
evening, and at eventide dare not to boast thyself of the morrow. 
Always be thou prepared, and so live that death may never find thee 
unprepared. Many die suddenly and unexpectedly. For ai such an 
hour as ye thin^ not. the Son of Man comeih} When that JasC hour 

' Maiihcw *3Uv, 44, 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 23 1 

shall come, thou wilt begin In think very differently of thy whole 
life pa^c, and wile mourn bitterly that thou hysl been so negligeni; 
and ^lodifiiL 

4. Happy and wise is he who now strivcth to he such in lite as he 
would fain he found in death! For a perfect contempt of the world, 
a fervent desire to excel in virtue, the love of discipline, the painful- 
ness of repentance, readiness to obey, denial of self, submission to 
any adversity i:or love of Christ; these are the things which ahull give 
great confidence of a happy death. Whilst thou art in health thou 
hast many opportunities of good works; but when thou art in sick- 
ness I know not how much thou will be able 10 do. Few are made 
better by infirmity: even as they who wander mueh abroad seldom 
become holy. 

5. Trust not thy friends and kinsfolk, nor put off the work of 
thy salvation to the future, for men will forget thee sooner than 
thou thinkest. It is better for thee now to provide in time, and to 
send some gootl before ihee, dian to trust to the help of others. If 
thou art not anxious for thyself now, who, thrnkest thou, will be 
anTfious for thee afterwards? Now the time is most precious. Norf 
ii the accepted thne, now is the day of salivation. Bui, alas! that 
thou spcndcst not well this trmo, wherein thou mij^htest lay up 
treasure which should profit ihee everlastingly. The hour will come 
when thou shalt desire one day, yea, one hour, for arnendment of 
life, and I know not whether thou shalt obtain. 

6. Oh, dearly beloved, from what danger ihou mightest free thy- 
self, from what great fear, if only thou wouldst always live in fear, 
and in expectation of death! Strive now to live in such wise that 
in the hour of death thou maycst rather rejoice than fear. Learn now 
to die to the world, so shalt thou begin to live with Christ. Lcara 
now to contemn all earthly things, and then mayest thou freely go 
unto Christ, Keep under thy body by penitence, and then shalt 
thou be able to have a sure confidence, 

7. Ah, foolish one! why thinkest thou that ihou shalt live long, 
when thou art not sure of a single dayf How many have been de- 
ceived, and suddenly have been snatched away from the body! How 
many times hasi thou heard how one was slain by the sword, an- 
other was drowned, anodier Tailing from on high broke his neck. 



232 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

another died at the table, another whilst at play! One died by fire* 
another by the sword, another by the pestilence, another by the rob- 
ber. Thus Cometh death to all, and the life of men swiftly pas^ech 
away like a shadow. 

S- Wlio will remember ihee after thy death? And who will en- 
treat for thee? Work» work now, oh dearly beloved, work all that 
thou canst. For ihou knowesf not when thou shak die, nor what 
shall happen unto thee after death. While ihou hast time, lay up 
for thyself undying riches. Think of nought but o£ thy salvation; 
care only for the things of God. Ma^n^ to ihysdf jrUnds, by ven- 
erating [he sSaints of God and walking in [heir steps, that when thott 
jailest, thou mayest be received into eucrlasting hahitalions^ 

g. Keep thyself as a stranger and a pilgrim upon the earth, to 
whom the things of the world appertain not. Keep thine heart free, 
and lifted up towards God, jor here hufe we no continuing city^ 
To Him direct thy daily prayers with crying and tears, thar thy 
spirit may be found worthy to pass happily after death unto lis Lord. 
Amen. 

CHAPTER XXIV 

OF THE JUIM^MENT AND PUNISHMENT OF TliE WICKED 

In all that ihou doest, remember the end, and how ihou will 
siand before a strict judge, from whom nothing is hid, who is not 
bribed with gifts, nor accepteth excuses, but will judge righteous 
judgment. O most miserable and foolish sinner, who art sometimes 
in fear of the countenance of an angry man, what wilt thou answer 
to God, who knowelh all thy misdeeds? Why dost ihou not provide 
for thyself against the day of judgment, when no man shall be able 
10 be excused or defended by means of another, but each one shall 
bear his burden himself alone? Now doih thy labour bring forth 
fruitj now is ihy weeping acceptable, thy groaning heard, thy sor- 
row well pleasing to God, and cleansing to thy soul. 

2. Even here on earth the patient man findeth great occasion of 
purifying his soul. When suffering injuries he grieveih more for 
the ocher*s malice than for his own wrong; when he prayeth heart- 

^Luke 7£vi. 9. ^Hebrews kiii. i^. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 233 

ily for those thac despirefully use him» and forgiveth them from his 
heart; when he is nut slow to ask pardon from others; when he ts 
swifter to pity than to anger; when he frequency denieih himself 
and siriveth altogether to subJuc [he fiesh W the spirit- Better is it 
now fo purify the sonl from sin, than to ding to sins from which we 
must be purged hereafter. Truly we deceive ourselves by the inordi- 
nate love which we bear towards the flesli, 

3. What is it which that fire shall devour, save thy sins? The 
more thou sparest thyself and followest the flesh, the more heavy 
shall thy punishment be* and the more fuel art ihou heaping up for 
the burning. For wherein a man hath sinned) therein shall he be 
the tnore heavily punished. There shall the slothful be pricked 
forward with burning goads, and the gluttons be tormented with 
iniolerabie hunger and thirst. There shiill the luxurious and the 
lovers o£ pleasure be plunged into burning pitch and jinking brim- 
stone* and the envious shall howl like mad dogs for very grief. 

4- No sin will there be which shall not be visited with its own 
proper ptinishment. The proud shall be fUIed with utter confusion, 
and the covetous shall be pinched with miserable poverty. An hour's 
pain there shall be more grievous than a hundred years here of the 
bitterest penitence. No quiet shall be there, no comfort for the lost, 
though here sometimes there is respite from pain» and enjoyment of 
the solace of friends. Be thou anxious now and sorrowful for thv 
sins, that in the day of judgment thoa raayesc have boldness with 
[he blessed. For i/ten shall the nghtcous man stand m great boldness 
before ihc face of such as haue u^icted him and ftiade no account 
of hi! lahouys} Then shall he stand up to judge* he who now sub- 
mittelh himself in humility to the judgments of men- llieo shall the 
poor and humble man have great confidence, while the proud is 
taken with fear on every side. 

5. Then shall i: be seen that he was the wise man in this world 
who learned to be a fool and despised for Christ. Then shall all 
tribulation patiently home delight us, while the mouth of the un- 
godly shall be stopped. Then shall every godly m;!n repice^ and 
every profane man shall mourn. Then the itrflicted flesh shall more 
rejoice than if it had been alway nourished in delights. Then the 
: iWisd. V. I. 



-r-:';. 



234 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

humble garment shrill put on beauty, and ihe precious robe shal) 
hide Ttself as vile. Then the litcle poor cottage shall be more com- 
mended than the gilded palace. Then enduring patience shall have 
more might than all tlie power oE die world Then simple obedi- 
ence shall be more highly exalted than all worldly wisdom, 

fi. Then a pure and good conscience shall more rejoice than 
learned philosophy. Then contempt of riches shall have more weight 
than all ihc treasure of the children of this world. Then shalt thou 
iind more comfort in having prayed devouily than in having fared 
sumptuously. Then thou wiU rather rejoice in having kept silence 
than in having made long speech. Then holy deeds shall be far 
stronger than many Ane words. Then a strict life and sincere peni- 
tence shall bring deeper pleasure than all earthly delight. Learn no:v 
to suffer a little, that then thou mayest be enabled to escape heavier 
suEIerings. Prove first here, what ibou art able to endure hereafter. 
If now [hou art able to bear so little, how wilt thou be able to endure 
eteroal torments? If now a little suffering maketh thee so im- 
patient, what shall hell-fire do then? Behtild o£ a surety thou art 
not able to have two Paradises, to take thy fill or delight here in this 
world, and to reign with Christ hereafter. 

7. If even unio this day thou hadst ever lived in honours and 
pleasures, what would the whole profit thee if now death came to 
thee in an instantr' All therefore is vanity., save to love God and 
to serve Him only. For he who loveth God with all his heart feareth 
not death, nor punishment, nor judgment, nor hell, because perfect 
love giveth sure access to God, But he who still delighteth in sin, 
no marvel if he is afraid of death and judgment. Nevertheless it is 
a good thing, i£ love as yet cannot restrain thee from evil, that at 
least the fear of hell should hold thee back. But he who putteth aside 
the fear of God cannot long continue in good, but shall quickly fall 
into the snares of the devil. 

CHAPTER XXV 



OF THE ZEALOVS AM^ENDMENT OF OUR WHOLE LIFE 

Be thou watchful and diligent in God's service, and betliink thee 
often why [bou hast renounced the world. Was it not that thou 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 235 

mightest live 10 God cind become a spiritual man? Be zealous, there- 
fore, for ihy spiritual proiii, for thou shjlt receive shortly the reward 
of thy labours, and neither fear nor sorrow shall come any more 
into chy borders. Now shak ihou labour a iiltle, and thou shall find 
^reat rest, yea everlasting joy. If ihou shalt remain faitliful and 
zealous in labour^ doubt not that God shall be faithful and bounti- 
ful in rewarding thee. It is thy duty to have a good hope that thou 
wilt attain the victory, but thou must not fall into security lest thou 
become sloihful or lifted up. 

3. A certain man being in anxiety of mind, continually tossed 
abour between hope and fear, and being on a certain day over- 
whelmed with grief, cast himself down in prayer before the altar in 
a church, and meditated within himself, saying, ^'Oh! if I but knew 
that 1 should still persevere," and presendy heard within hini a 
voice from God, "And if thou didst know it^ what wouEdst thou do? 
Do now what thou wouldst do then* and thou shalt be very secure,*' 
And straightway being comforted and sttenglhencd, he committed 
himself to die will of God and the perturbation of spirit ceased, 
neither had he a mind any more to search curiously to know what 
should befall him hereafter, but studied rather to inquire \^at was 
the good and acceptable will of God, for the beginning and per- 
fecting of every good work, 

3. Hope in the Lovd and be doing good, saith the Prophet; dwell 
in ihc land and thou shalt be jed^ with its riches. One thing there 
is which holdeth bach many from progress and fervent amendment, 
even the dread of diificuliy, or the labour of the conflict. Neverthe- 
less they advance above all others in virtue who strive manfully to 
conquer those things which are most grievous and contrary to them, 
£or there a man profiteth most and meriteth greater grace where he 
mosc overcometh himself and morcifieih himself in spirit, 

^, But all men have not the same passions to conquer and to mor- 
tify, yet he who is diligent shall attain more profit, although he 
have stronger passions, than another who is more temperate of dis- 
position, but is wrihal less fervent in the pursuit of virtue. Two 
things specially avail unto improvement in holiness, namely firmness 
to withdraw ourselves from the sin to which by nature We are most 

1 Pialm XNSviL 3, 



I 



236 THE IMITATION OF CHEIST 

inclined* and earnest zeal for ihat good in which we are most lack- 
ing. And strive also very earnesdy 10 guard against and subdue 
diDsc fault? which displease thee most frequenily in others. 

5. Gather some profit to thy siiul wherever ihou an* and wher- 
ever chou see^t or hearest good exampic':, stir thyself to follow theni* 
but where thou seest anything which is blameworthy, take heed d^at 
thou do not the same; or if at any time thou hast done it, strive 
quickly to amend thyself. As thine eye obscrveth odierSj so again 
are the eyes of others upon thee- How sweet and pleasant is it to see 
zealous and gotlly brethren temperate and of good discipline; and 
ho^v sad is it and grievous to see them walking disorderly* not 
practising the duties to which ihey are called. How hurtful a thing 
it is to neglect the purpose of their calling, and turn their inclina- 
tions to thing* which are none of their business. 

6. Be mindful of the duties which thou hast undertaken, and set 
always before thee the remembrance of die Crucified. Truly ought- 
cst thou to be ashamed as thou lookcst upon the life of Jesus Christ, 
because thou hast not yei endeavoured to conform thyself more 
unto Him, though thou hast been a long lime in the way of God. A 
rehgious man who exercises himself seriously and devoudy in the 
most holy life and passion of our Lord shall find there abundantly 
all things tliar are profitable and necessary for him, neither is there 
need that he shall seek anything better beyond Jesus. Oh! it Jesus 
crucified would come into our hearts, how quEclvfy, and completely 
should we have learned all that we need to know! 

7. He who is earnest recelveth and beareth well all things that are 
laid uixin him. He who is careless and lukewarm hath trouble 
iqron trouble, and sufferetli anguish upon every side, because he is 
without inward consolation, and is forbidden to seek that which is 
outward. He who is living without discipline is exposed to griev- 
ous ruin- He who seeketh easier and lighter discipline shall always ' 
be in distress, because one thing or another will give him displeasure. ■ 

8. Of if no other duty lay upon us hut to praise the Lord our j 
God with our whole heart and voice! Oh! if thou never hadst nee.' 
to eat or drink, or sleep, but wert always able to praise God, and 
to give thyself to spiritual exercises alone; then shouldst thou be fj. 
happier than nowj when for so many necessities thou must ser\'e the 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 237 

fltsh. O! ihjt these necessities were noi, but only the spiritual 
lefreshmentB of tlie soul, which a!as we taste too seldom. 

9, When a man hath come 10 thits, that he seeketh comfort from 
no created thing, then doth he perfectly begin to enjoy God, then also 
will he be well contented with whatsoever shall happen unto him. 
Then will he neither rejoice for much nor be sorrowful for little^ 
but he commkieth himself iiltogether and with full trust unto God, 
who is all in all to him» to whom nothing perishcth nor dieth, but 
all chings live to Him and obey His every word without delay. 

10. Remember always thine end, and how the time which is lost 
returneth not* Without care and diligence thou shall never get 
virtue. If thou bcginnest to grow cold, it shall begin to go ill with 
thee, but if thou givesi ihysclf unto v,eal thou shalt find much peace» 
and shalt find thy labour the lighter because o£ the grace of God 
and the love of virttie. A zealous and diligent man is ready for all 
things. It is greater labour to resist sins and passions than to toil in 
bodily labours. He who shunneih noi small faults fallcth liiilc by 
little into greater. At eventide thou shalt always be glad if rhou 
spend the day profitably. Watch over thysdf. stir thysclE up, admon- 
ish thyself, and howsoever it be with others, neglect not thyself* The 
more violence thou dost unto thyself, the more thou shall profit. 
Amen. 



K 



i 



THE SECOND BOOK 

ADMONiTlONS CONCERNING THE 
INNER LIFE 

CHAPTER I 

OF THE INWABU LIFE 

rHE f^ingdam of God is u'ithin you^ saith the Lord. Turn 
thee wiih all thine heart eo the Lord and fori^ke this mis- 
erable world, and thou shalt find rest unco thy soul. Learn 
to despite outward things and lo give thyself to things inward, and 
thou shall see the kingdom of God comt! within thee. For the king- 
dom of God is peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, and it is not given 
to the wicked. Christ will come to thee, and show thee His consola- 
tion, if thou prepare a worthy mansion for Him within thee. All 
His glory and beauty is from within, and there it pleaseth Him to 
dwell. He often visiteth the inward man and holdeth with hira 
sweet discourse, giving him soothing consolation, much peace, 
friendship exceeding wonderful. 

2. Go to, faithful soul, prepare thy heart for diis bridcgroDm that 
he may vouchsafe to come to thee and dwell within thee, for so He 
iaith, ij any man laveth tne hs will \eep n/y tvords: end my Fatho' 
iviil love him, and we will come unto hiin and mal^e our abode with 
him? Give, tlierefore, place to Christ and refuse entrance to all 
others. When diou hast Christ, thou art rich, and hast sufficient. 
He shall be thy provider and faithful watchman in all things, so 
that thou hast no need to trust in men, for men soon change and 
sviiiftly pass away, but Christ remaineth for ever and standeth by ua 
firmly even to the end. 

3. There is no great trust to be placed in a frail and mortal man, 
even though he be useful and dear to us, neither should much sor- 

'Lulte xvii. 21. ^John xi*. 23. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 239 

row arise wkhin ui if sonnzcimes he upposo and coniradict us. The/ 
who are on [hy side to-day, may lo-morrow be against thee, and 
oit^n are they curned round like the wind. Put thy whole trust in 
Cod and let Him be thy fear and thy love» He will answer for Lhee 
Hiui^lf, and will do for thee what is best. Here hast thou no con' 
dniiing city^ and v/heresoever thou jri, thou art a stranger and a 
pilgrim, and thou shait never have rest unless thou art closely united 
to Christ widiin chee. 

4. Why dost thou cast thine eyes hhbcr and thither, since this w 
not the place of rhy test? In heaven ought thy habitation to be. 
and all earthly things should be looked upon as k were in the 
passing by. All diingi pass away and thou equally with them. Look 
that thou cteave not to them leut ihou be taken with them and 
periih. Let thy contemplation l>e on the Most High» and let thy 
supplication be directed nnto Christ without ceasing. If thou canst 
not behold high and heavenly things, rest thou in the passion of 
Christ and dwell willingly in His sacred wounds. For if ihou de- 
voutly fly to the wounds of Jesus, and the precious marks of the 
nails and the spear, thou shall find great comfort in tribulation, nor 
will the slights of men trouble thee much, and thou wilt easily bear 
their unkind words. 

5. Christ also, when He was in the worlds was despised and re- 
jected o£ men» and in His greatest necessity was left by His acquaint- 
ance and friends to bear these reproaches, Christ was wiUing to 
suffer and be despised, and daresi ihou complain of any? Christ 
had adversaries and gainsayers. and dost thou wish to have all men 
thy friends and benefactors? Whence shall thy patience attain her 
crown if no adversity befall thee? 1£ thou an unwilling to suffer 
any adversity, how shalt thou be the friend of Christ? Sustain thy- 
self with Christ and for Christ if thou wilt reign with Christ. 

6. If thou hadsi once entered into the mind of Jesus, and hadst 
tasted yea even a little of his tender love, then wouldst thou care 
nought for thine own convenience or inconvenience, but wouldsE 
rather rejoice at trouble brought upon thee, because the love of 
Jesus maketh a man to despise himself. He who lovelh Jesus, and 
is inwardly true and free frnm inordinate affections, is able to turn 

'Hebreivs siiL 14, 



i 



240 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

himself readily unto God, and to rise above himself in spirit, and to 
enjoy fruitful peace. 

7- He who knoweth ihii^gs ns they are and not as they hts said or 
seem to be, he truly is wise, and is taught of God more than of men. 
He who knoweth how to walk from within, and id set little value 
upon outward things, requirelh nut places nor waiteth for seasons, 
for holding his intercourse with God, The inward man tjuickly 
recollecteth himself^ because he is never entirely given up to outward 
things. No outward labour and no necessary occupaiions stand in 
his way, but as events fall out, so doth he Ri himself to them. He 
who is rightly disposed and ordered within careih not for the 
strange and perverse conduct of men- A man is hindered and 
distracted in so far as he is moved by outward things. 

S. If it were well with thee, and thou wert purified from evil, all 
things would work together for thy good and profiting. For this 
C5use do many things displease thee and often trouble thee, that 
thou art not yet perfectly dead to thyself nor separated from all 
earthly things. Nothing so defilcth and entangleth the heart of man 
as impure love towards created things. If thou rejecrest outward 
comfort thou wilt be able to contemplate heavenly things and fre- 
quently to be joyful inwardly, 

CHAPTER II 

OF LOWLY SUBMISSJOX 

Make no great account who is for thee or against thee^ but mind 
only the present duty and take care that God be with thee in what- 
soever thou doEst. Have a good conscience and God will defend 
thee, for he whom God will help no man's perverseness shall be 
able to hurt. If thou kiiowest how lo hold thy peace and to suffer, 
without doubt thou shak see the help of the Lord. He knoweth the 
rime and the way to deliver thee, therefore must ihou resign thyself 
to Him. To God it belongeth to help and to deliver from all con- 
fusion. Oftentimes it is very profitable for keeping us in greater 
humility, that others know and rebuke our faults, 

2. When a man humbleth himself for his defects, he then easily 
paciEietb others and quickly sati&tieth those that are angered against 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 24I 

him. God proiectcth and delivereth the humble man, He loveth and 
comforteth the humble man* 10 ihc humble man He inclinetli Him- 
self, on ihe humble He bestoweth great grace, and when he is cast 
down He raiseth hirn to glory: lo the humble He revealeth His 
secrets, and sweetly draweth and invileth him to Himself. The 
humble m.an having received reproach, is yet in sufficient peace, 
because he resteth on God and not on the world. Reckon not thyself 
10 have profited in anywise unless thou fee! thyself lo be inferior 
to alL 

CHAPTER 111 

OF THE GOOD, PEACEABLE MAN 

First keep thyself in fieace, and then shalt thou be able to be a 
peacemaker towards others. A peaceable man doth more good than 
3 well-learned, A passionate man turneth even good into evil and 
easily believeth evil; a good* peaceable man cunverteth all things 
into good. He who dwelletb in peace is suspicious of none, bur he 
who is discontented and rcsdess is tossed with many suspicions, and 
is neither quiet himself nor sudereth others to be quiet. He often 
saiih what he ought not to say» and omitteth what it were more 
expedient for him to do. He considerech to what duties others are 
bound, and neglecteth those to which he is bound himself. There- 
fore be zealous first over thyself, and then mayest thou righteously be 
zealous concerning thy neighbour. 

2. Thou knowest well how 10 excuse and to colour ihinc own 
deeds, but thou wilt not accept the excuses of others. It would be 
more just to accuse thyself and excuse thy brother. If thou wilt that 
others bear with thee, bear thou with others. Behold how far thou 
art as yet from [he true charity and humility which knows not how 
to be angry or indignant against any save self alone. It is no great 
thing to mingle with the good and the meek, for this is naturally 
pleasing to aH, and every one of us willingly enjoyeth peace and 
liketh best those who think with us: but to be able to live peaceably 
with the hard and perverse, or with the disorderly, or those who 
oppose us, thrs is a great grace and a thing much to be commended 
and most worthy of a man. 



i 



242 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

3, There arc who keep themselves in peace and keep peace also 
with others, and there are who neither have peace nor suffer others 
to have peace; they are troublesome to others^ but always more trou- 
blesome to ihemselves. And there ate who hold themselves in peace, 
and study to bring others unto peace; nevertheless, all our peace in 
this sad life lieth in humble suffering rather than in not feeling ad- 
versities. He who best knoweth how to sutler shall possess the most 
peace; that man is conqueror of himself and lord of the world, the 
friend of Christ, and the inheritor of heaven. 

CHAPTER IV 

OF A PURE MiND ANO SIMPLE INTENTION" 

Bv^ two wings is man lifted atfove earthly things, even by sim- 
plicity and puriiy. Simplicity oughc to be in the intenfion, purity in 
the affection- Simplicity reachcth towards God, purity apprehendeth 
Him and tasteth Him. No good aciion will be distasieCul to thee 
i£ thou be free within frojn inordinate affection. If thou reaches! 
after and seekest, nothing but the will of God and the benefit of 
[hy neighhour, thou wilt entirely enjoy inward liberty. If thine 
heart were right, then should every creature be a mirror of life and 
a book o£ holy doctrine. There is no creature so small and vile but 
that it showeih us the goodness of God. 

2. If thou wert good and pure within^ then wouldst thou look 
upon all things without hurt and understand them aright. A pure 
heart seeth the very depths of heaven and hell. Such as each one is 
inwardly, so judgeth he outwardly. If there is any joy in the world 
surely the man of pure heart possesseih it, and if there is anywhere 
iribul^doQ and anguish, the evil conscience knoweth it best. As iron 
cast into the fire loseth rust and is made altogether glowing, so 
the man who turneth himself altogether unto God is freed from 
sloihfulness and changed into 3 new man. 

3. When a man beginneih to grow lukewarm, then he feareih 3 
little labour, and willingly accepteth outward consolation; but when 
he begjnneth perfecdy to conquer himself and to walk manfully 
in the way of God, then he counteth as nothing those things which 
aforetime seemed to be so grievous unto him. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 243 

CHAPTER V 

OF S£LF-ESX£EM 

We cannot place too liiilc confidence in ourselves, because grace 
and undersianding are ofcen lacking to us. Litde light is there 
widiin us, and whar we have we quickly lose by negligence. Often- 
times we perceive not how great is our inward blindness. We often 
do ill and excuse it worse. Sometimes we arc moved by passion and 
touni it zeal; we blame litLle faults in others and pass over great 
faults in ourselves. Quickly enough we feel and reckon up what we 
bear .iL the hands of others, but we reflect not how much others are 
bearing from us. He who would weigh well and rightly his own 
doings would not be Lhe man [o judge severely of another, 

2. The spiritually-minded man putteth care of himself before all 
cares; and he who diiigently attendeth 1:0 himself easily keepeih 
silence concerning others. Thou wilt never be spiritually minded 
and godly unless [hou an silent concerning other men s matters and 
take full heed to thyself. H thou think wholly upon thyself and 
upon God, what thou seest out of doors shall move thee little. 
Where art diou when thou art not present to thyself? and when 
thou hasE overrun all things, what hjth it profited thee, thyself 
being neglected? If thou wouldsi have peace and true unity, thou 
must put aside all other things* and gaze only upon thyself. 

3. Then thou shalt makt^ great progress if thou keep thyself free 
from all temporal care. Thou shalt lamentably fall away if thou 
set a value upon any worldly thing. Let nothing be great, nothing 
high, nothing pleasing, nothing acceptable unto thee, save God Him- 
self or the things of God. Reckon as altogether vain whatsoever con- 
solation comes to thee from a creature. The soul that loveib God 
looketh not to anything that is beneath God. God alone is eternal 
and incomprehensible, filling ail things, the solace of the soul, and 
the true joy of the heart. 



2^4 "^'^^ IMITATION OF CHRIST 

CHAPTER VI 

OF THE JOY OF A GOOD CiJX&CIESCE 

The testimony of iS good conscience is the glory of a good man. 
Have a good conadcnce ajid rlioir shah ever have joy. A good con- 
science is able to bear exceeding mach, and is exceeding joyful ia 
the midst of adversities; an evil conscience is ever fearful and un- 
quiet. Thou shah re^i sweedy if thy heart condemn thee not. Never 
rejoice unless v^hen thou hast done well. The wicked have never 
true joy^ nor feel internal peace, for ihere is no peace, saith my God, 
to the liiickj^d? And if they say *Ve are in peace, there shall no 
harm happen unto us, nnd who shall dare lo do us hurt?" believe 
them not, for stiddenly shall the wrath of God rise up against them, 
and [heir deeds shall be brought to nought, and their thoughts shall 
perish. 

2, To glory in tribulation is not grievous to him who loveth; for 
such glorying is glorying in the Cross of Christ. Brief is the glory 
which is given and received of men. Sadness always goeth hand in 
hand with the glory of the world. The gloty of the good is rn theit 
conscience, and not in the report o£ men. The joy of the upright 
is from God and in God, and their joy is in the truth. He who de- 
sireth true and eternal glory careth not for that which is temporal; 
and he who seeketh temporal glory, or who despiseth it from his 
heart, is proved to bear little love for that which is heavenly. He 
who careth for neither praises nor reproaches harh great tranqurlhty 
of heart. 

3. He will easily be contentei^ and filled with peace, whose con- 
science is pure. Thou art none the holier if thou art praised, nor the 
viler if thou art reproached. Thou art what thou art; and thou canst 
not be better than God pronounceth thee to be. If thou considerest 
well what thou art inwardly^ thou wilt not care what men will say 
to thee. Man looi{etk on the outruurd appearance, but the Lord 
}oo\eth on the heart'^ man lookelh on the deed, but God considereth 
the intent. It is the token of a humble sjiirit always to do well, and 

* I^^ah [vii. 21. ' [ SamucJ \vi. 7. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 245 

to 5tt litLle by oneself. Noc ro look for consolation from iniy created 
thing li a sign of great purity and inward Ejithfulness. 

4. He [liJt seeketh no outward witness on his own bel],!]^ show- 
clh plainly that he haih committed himseff wholly to God. For not 
he thai cOTnmctideth him sdj is appro fi^d, as Sf, Paul saith» but tahom 
the Lord commemieth? To walk inwardly with God, and not to be 
held by any outer affections^ is []\e slate of a spiritual man, 

CHAPTER VU 

OF LOVINO JESUS ABOVE ALL TJIlNtiS 

r 

Blessed is he who vindersiandeih wh.nr it is 10 love Jesus, and to 
despise himsel£ for Jesus' sake- He must give up all [hat he loveth 
for his Beloved, for Jesus will be loved alone above all things. The 
love of created things is deceiving and unstable, but the love of Jesus 
is faithful and lasting. He who cleaveth to created things will fall 
with iheir slipperiness; but he who embraceih Jesus will stand up- 
right for ever. Love Him and hold Him. for thy friend, for He will 
not forsake rhee when all depart fiom thee, nor will he suffer thee 
to perish at the last. Thou must one day be separated from ali» 
whether thou will or will not, 

1. Cleave thou to Jesus in life and death, and commit thyself unto 
His faithfulness, who, when all men fail thee, is alone able to help 
thee. Thy Beloved is such, by nature, that He will sulTer no rival, 
but alone will possess thy heart, and as a king will sit upon His own 
throne. If thou wouldsc learn to put away from thee every cieaied 
thing, Jesui would freely take up His abode with thee. Thou wilt 
find all trust little belter ihan lost which thou hast placed in men, 
and not in Jesus. Trust noi nor lean upon a reed shaken with the 
wind, because ait flesh is grass, and the goodiiness thereof falleth as 
the ftoiver of the field} 

3. Thou wilt be quickly deceived if thou lookest only upon the 
outward appearance of men, for if thou seekest thy comfort and 
profit in others, ihou shalt too often ej:per]ence loss. If thou seekest 
Jesus in all things thou shall verily find Jesus, but if thou seekest 



246 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

thyself tbou shalt also find thyself^ but 10 thine own hurt. For if a 
m.nii seekcih not Jesus he is more hurtful to himself tlian all the 
world and all his adveraari-cs. 

CHAPTER Vlir 

or THE INTIMATE T.OVE OF jEStJS 

Whhn' Jesus is present all h well and nothing scemeth hard, but 
when Jesus is not present everything is hartl. When Jestis speakelh 
DOC within, our comfoti is nothing worth, but if Jesus spc^keth 
but a single word great is ihc comfort we experience. Did not 
Miiry Magditlene ri^e up quicHy from the place where she wepr 
when Martha said 10 her, T/iff Master is cormr uiid cailf/h for shee?^ 
Happy hoar when Jesus calleth thee from tears to the joy of the 
spirit! How dry and hard art ibou without Jesus! How senseless 
and vain if thou desirest aught beyond Jesus! Is not this greater loss 
than if thou shouldst lose the whole world? 

2. What can the world profit thee without Jesusf' To be without 
T&sus is the nethermost hell, and to be with Jesus is sweet Paradise. 
If Jesus were with thee no enemy could hurt thee. He who findeth 
Jeius findeth a good treasure^ yea^ good above <\{\ good; and he 
who loseth Jesus loseth exceeding much, yea, more than the whole 
world. Most poor is he who liveth without Jesus, and most rich is 
he who is much wiih Jcsus^ 

3. It is great skill to know how to live with Jesus, and to know 
how to hold Jesus is great wistlom. Be thou bumble and peaceable 
and Jesus shall be with thcc Be godly and quiet, and (esus will 
remain with ihce. Thou canst quickly drive away Jesus and lose 
His favour if thou wilt turn away to the outer things. And if thou 
hast pui Him to flight and lost Him, to wh<im wilt thou flee, and 
whom then wilt thou seek for a friend?" Without a friend thou 
canst not live kjug, and if Jesus be not thy friend above all thou 
shalt be very sad and desolate. Madly therefore doest thou if thou 
trusteth or findest joy in any other. It is preferable to have the whole 
world against thee, than Jesus offended with thee. Therefore of all 
that are dear to thee, let Jesus be specially loved. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 247 

4. Lei all be loved for Jesus* sat:e, but Jesus for His own. Jesus 
Christ alone is to be specially loved, for He done is found good and 
faithful jbovc all friends. For His sake and in Him let both ene- 
mies and friends be dear to thce» and ptay for them all thai they may 
ail know and love Him. Never desire to be specially praised or 
loved, because this belongeth to God alone^ who haih none like unto 
Himself, Nor wish ihou that any one set his heart on thee» nor do 
ihou give thyself up to the love of any, but let Jesus be in ihec and 
in every good man. 

5. Be pure and free within thyself, and be not entangled by an^ 
treated tiling- Thou oughtest to bring a bare and clean heart to 
God, if thou desirest to be ready to see how gracious :he Lord is. 
And in truth, unless ihou be prevented and drawn on by His gr,ice» 
thou wilt not attain to this, that having cast out and dismissed all 
else, thou alone art united to God. For when the grace of God 
Cometh to a man, ihen he hecomcth able to do all things, and when 
it departcih then he will be poor and weak and given up unto 
troubles. In these thou an not to be cast down nor to despair, but 
to rest with calm mind on the will of God, and to bear all things 
which come upon ihee unto the praise oE Jesus Christ; for after 
winter cometh summer, after night reiurneth day, after the tempest 
a great calm. 

CHAPTER IK 

OF IHE LACK OF ALL COMFORT 

It is no hard tiling to despise human comfort when divine is pres- 
ent. It is a great thing, yea very great, 10 be able to bear the loss 
both of human and divine comfort; and for the love of God will- 
ingly to bear exile of heart, and in nought to seek oneself, nor to 
look to one's own merit. What great matter is it, if thou be cheerful 
of heart and devout when favour cometh to ihee? That is an hour 
wherein all rejoice. Pleasandy enough doth be ride whom the grace 
of God carrieth. And what marvel, if he feeleth no burden who 
is carried by the Almighty, and is led onwards by the Guide from 
on high ? 

2. We are \villing to accept anything for comfort, and it is diffi- 



248 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

cull for a man to be freed from himself. The holy martyr Laurence 
ovt:rcame ihe love of the world and even of his priestly master, he- 
cause he despised everything in the world which seemed to be 
pleasant; and for [he love of Christ he calmly suffered even God'5 
chief priest, Sixtus^ whom he dearly loved, to be taken from him. 
Thus by ihe love of the Creaior he overcame the love of man, and 
instead of human comfort he chose rather God's good pleasure. So 
also learn thou to resign any near and beloved friend for the love 
of God. Nor lake it amiss when thou hast been deserted by a friend, 
knowing that we must all be parted from one another at last. 

3. Mightily and long must a man strive within himself before he 
learn aliogethei to overcome himself* and to draw his whole affec- 
tion towards God. When a man resteth upon himself* he easily slip- 
peth away unto human comforts. But a true lover of Christj and 
a diligent seeker after virtue, falleth not back upon those comforts, 
nor seeketh such sweetnesses as may be tasted and handled, but 
de&ireth rather hard exercise:*^ and to undertake severe labours for 
Christ. 

4. When, therefore, spiritual comfort is given by God, receive it 
with giving of thanksj and know that it is the gift of God, not 
thy desert. Be not lifted up. rejoice not overmuch nor foolishly pre- 
sume, but rather be more humble for the gift, more wary and 
more careful in all thy doings; for that hour will pass away, and 
temptation will follow. When comfort is taken from thee, do not 
straightway despair, but wait for the heavenly visitation with humil- 
ity and patience, for God is able to give thee back greater favour and 
consolation. This is not new nor ^strange to those who have made 
trial of the way of God, for with the great saints and the ancient 
prophets there was often this manner of change, 

5. Wherefore one said when the favour of God was present with 
him, / iaiil in my prosperity I shall never be moved} but he goeth 
on to say what he felt within himself when the favour departed: 
Thoit didst turn Thy face from me. and I was troubled. In spite 
whereof he in no wise despaireth. but the more instantly entreaceth 
God, and saith. Unto Thee, Lord, UfsU I cry. and ivilt pray unto 
my God; and then he receiveth the fruit of his prayer, and testitieth 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 249 

how he hnich been heard, saying, The Lord heard me and had mercy 
upon me, the Lord hjbs my helper. But ivheteinP 7 fiou hast turned 
my heaviness into joy. Thou hast put off my sac^chih and girded 
me wir/i gladneis. If it was thus with the great saints, we who are 
poor and needy ought not 10 despjir if we are somedmes in the 
warniiK and somcEimcs in ihe cold, for the Spirit cometh and goeth 
according to the good pleasure of His will. Wherefore holy Job 
saith. Thou dost visit him in the morning, and suddenly Thott dost 
prove hiw^ 

6. Whereupon then can 1 hope, or wherein may I trust, save only 
in the great mercy of God, and the hope of heavenly grace? For 
whether good men are with me, godly brethren or faithful friends, 
whether holy books or beautiful discourses, whether sweet hymns 
and songs, all these help but little, and have but htde savour when I 
am deserted by God's favour and left to mine own poverty. There 
is no better remedy, then, than patience and denial of self, and an 
abiding in the will o£ God. 

7. I have never found any man so religious and godly, but that 
he felt sometimes a withdrawal of [he divine favour, and lack of 
fervour. No saint was ever so fdled with rapture* so enlightened, but 
that sooner or later he was tempted. For he is not worthy of the great 
vision of God, who, for God's suke* hath not been exercised by some 
temptation. For temptation is wont to go before as a sign of the 
comfuii which shall follow, and heavenly comfort is promised to 
those who are proved by temptation. As it is written, To him that 
Dtrercomctk I will ghe to eat of the tree of life. 

Z. Divine comfort is given that a man may be stronger to hear 
adversities. And temptation followelh, lest he be lifted up because 
of the benefit. The devil sleepeih not; thy flesh is not yet dead; 
therefore, cease thou not to make thyself ready umo the battle, for 
enemies stand on thy right hand and on thy left, and ihey are never 
at rest. 

'Job viL i&. ^EcvtUuon iL 7. 



250 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

CHAPTER X 

or CtL^TLTtTltE FOk tHE GRACE Of GOO 

Why s^Tiesc thou rest when thou an born to labour? PrepLirc 
thyself for patience more ih^n for comforjs, and for bearing the 
cross more than for joy. For who among the men o£ thh world 
would not gladly receive consolation and spiritual )oy if he might 
always have it? For spirirual comforts exceed all the ddighis o^ 
the iviiTid, and all the pleasures of [he tle^h. For all worldly delights 
are either empty of unclean, whilst spiritual delights alone are pleas- 
ant and honourable, the offspring of virtue, and poured forth by God 
into pure miuds. But no man can always en^oy these divine comforts 
at his own will, because the season of temptation ceaseth not for long. 

2. Great is the difference between a visitation from above and 
false liberty of spirit and great confidence in 5e!f. God doeth well 
in giving us the grace of comfort, but man doeih ill in not immedi- 
ately giving God thanks thereof. And thus the gifts of grace are 
not able lo llow unto us. because we arc ungrateful to the Author of 
ihem, and return them not wholly to the Fountain whence they 
flo*. For gr.ice ever beconiEth the portion of him who is graieful 
and that is taken away from the proud, which is wont to be ^iven 
to the humble. 

3. I desire no consolation which taketh away from me compunc- 
tion. 1 love no contempUtion which leadeth 10 pride. For all that 
is high is not holy, nor is everything that is sweet good; every de^re 
is not pure; nor is everything that is dear to us pleasing unto God. 
Willingly do 1 accept that grace whereby I am made humbler and 
more wary and more ready to renounce myself. He who is made 
learned by the gift of grace and taught wisdom by the stroke of die 
withdrawal thereof, will nor dare to claim any good thing for him- 
self, but will rather i^nfess that he is poor and needy. Gn'c tinto God 
the thing a-hich is God's^ and ascribe to thyself that which is thine; 
that is, give thanks unto God for His grace, but for thyself alone 
confess thy faiJt, and that thy punishment is deserved for thy fault. 

^. Sit thou down always in the lowest room and thou shalt be 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 2'yl 

given rhe highest pl^ce? For the highest cmnoi be without the 
lowest. For the highest saints of God are lease in their own sight, 
.nnd ihc more glorious ihcy are, sr> much the lowlier are they in tliem- 
selvei; full of ^racc and heavenly ijlory, they iire not desirous of vain- 
glory; resting on God and sirong in His might, they caaiioi. be lifted 
up in any wise. And they who ascribe unto God a.11 the good which 
they have received, "seek not glory one of another, but the glory 
whith comech from Cod only," and they desire that God shall be 
praised in Himself and in ;l]1 Hi', Sainti above aW things ^nd they are 
always sirlvjnj^ for this very thing. 

5, Be thankful, therefore, for the leasi benefit and ihou shall be 
worthy to receive greater. Let the least be unto thee even as the great- 
est, and let that which is of little account be unto thee as a special 
gift. If the majesty of the Giver be considered, nothing that is given 
shall seem small and of no worth, for that is not a smull thing which 
is given by the Most High God. Yea, though He gave punishmenc 
and stripes. We ought to be thankful, because He ever doth for our 
profit whatever He sulTereth to come upon us. He who seekeih to 
retain the favour of God, let him be thankful for the favour which is 
given, and paiient in rtf^pect of that which is taken away, L^t him 
pray that it niay return; let him be warj' and humble that he lose 
it nor. 

CHAPTER XI 

OF THE FE^tiESS OF THOSE WllO LOVE THE CBOSS OF JESUS 

Jesls hath many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers 
of His Cross. He hath many seekers of comfort, but few of tribula- 
tion- He fjndeih many companions of His table, but few of His 
fasting, AU desire to rejoice with Him, few are wi]ling to undergo 
anything for His sake- Many follow Jesus that they may eat of His 
loaves, but few that they may drink of the cup of His passion. Many 
are astonished at Hi*, Miraclesi few follow after ibe shame of His 
Cross. Many love }esus so long a'; no adversities happen Eo them. 
Many praise Him and bless Him, so long as they receive any com- 
forts from Him, But if Jesus hide Himself and withdraw from 

- Lukt xiv. 10. 



252 THE lMITATIO^' OF CHRIST 

them -J little while, ihey hll cither intg complaining or into too 
great dcjettion of mind. 

3. But they who love Jesus £or Jesus' sake, and not for any con- 
solation of iheir own^ hkss Hun in dl tribulation and :inguish of 
heart as jn the highest consolation. And if He should never give 
ihem consolation, neverthdess they would always praise Him and 
always give Him ihanks, 

3, Oh whai power hath the pure love of Je^tis, unmixed with any 
gain or love of selfl Should not all they be called mercenary who 
are always seekiEig consolations? Do they not prove Lhemselves 
lovers of self more than of Christ who are always seeking their own 
gain and advantage? Whore shall be found one who is willing 10 
serve God altogether for nought? 

4. Rarely Is any one found so spiritual as to be stripped of all 
selfish thoughts, for who shall find a man truly poor in spirit and 
free of all created things? "His value is from afar, yea from the ends 
of the earth." A man may give avv3y all his goods* yet that is noth- 
ing; and if he do many deeds of penitence, yet that is a small thing; 
and thotjgh he understand all knowledge, yet that is afar ofT; and if 
he have great virtue and zealous devotion, yet much is lacking unto 
hirn, yea, one thing which is the most nece'^sary to him of all. What 
is it then ? That having given up all things besides^ he give up him- 
self and go forth from himself utterly, and retam nothing of self- 
love; and having done all things which he knoweth to be his duty 
to do, that he feel that he haih done nothing. Let him not reckon 
that much which might be much esteemed, but let him pronounce 
himself to be in truth an unprofitable servant, as the Truth Him- 
self sailhi W/ien ye have done all things that are comtnandcd you, 
say, we are unprofitable seri/ants} Then may he be truly poor and 
naked in spirit, and be able to say with the Prophet, As for me, I 
am poor and needy? Nevertheless, no man is richer than he^ no 
man stronger, no man freer. For he knoweth both how lo give up 
himself and all things, and how to be lowly in his own eyes, 

'Luke xvii. 10. ^P&Jni kxv. 16. 



THE TMITATIOX OF CHRIST 253 

CHAPTER Xil 

OF TIIE EOYAL WAY OF THE HOLY CROSS 

That sEcmedi 3 li^rd saying 10 many, 7/ any man wiU corns after 
Me, ie! him dcnv lumsclj and tah^e itp his Cro^s and follow Me,* Bat 
it will be much harder to hear thai Issr sentence, Dtrpart from mc. ye 
tiAc^cd, into eternal fire? For they who now willingly hear the 
word o£ [he Cross and follow it, sliall not then fear (he hearing of 
eternal damnation. This sign o£ the Cro&s shall be in heaven when 
the Lord tometh to Judgment, Tiien all servants of the Cross, who 
in life have conformed themselves to the Crucified, shall draw nigh 
unto Christ tho Judge wiih great boldness. 

2. Why fearest thou ihen to lake up the cross which leadeth to a 
kingdom P In the Cross is healthy in rhe Cross is life, in the Cross is 
protection from enemies^ in Ehc Cross is hea^'Pnly sweetness, ic the 
Cross strength of mind, in the Cross joy of ihe spirit, in the Cross 
the height of virtue, in the Cross perfection ot holiness. There is no 
health of the sot:!, no hope of eternal life, save in die Cross. Take 
up therefore, thy cross and follow Jesus and thou shalt go into eternal 
life. He went before thee hearing His Cross and died for thee upon 
the Cross, that [hou also mayesi bear thy cross and maycst love to 
be crucified upon it. For if thtiu be dead with Him, tliou shalt also 
live with Him, and if thou be a partaker of His sufferings ihou shale 
be also of His glory. 

^. Behold everything dependeth upon the Cross, and everything 
lieth in dying; and there is none other way onto life and to true 
inward peace, except the way of the Holy Cross and of daily morti- 
fication. Go where thou wilt, seek whatsoever thou wilt, and thou 
shalr find no higher way above nor safer way below, than the way 
of the Holy Cross. Dispose and order all things according to thine 
own will and judgment, and [hou shalt ever find something to suffer 
either wihingly or unwiMingTy, and thus thou shalt ever find thy 
cross. For thou shall eisher feel pain of body, or tribuiation of spirit 
within thy souh 

4. Sometimes thou will be forsaken of God, sometimes thou wilc 
1 MiiUwiv Rvi. 34, ^M^ubcw xsv. 41. 



254 'T'HE IMTTATIO:^ OF CHRIST 

be tried by thy neighbour, and which is mure^ ihou wik often be 
wearisome ro rhy&elf* And still thou canst not be delivered nor 
ejscd by any remedy or consolation, but must bear so long as God 
will. For God will have thee learn to suffer tribLilatioo without con- 
solation, and CO submit thyself fully to it, and by tribulation be made 
more humble. No man undtrstandeih the Passion of Christ in his 
heari so well as be who hath had somewhat oi: the like suffering 
himself. The Cross therefore is always ready, and every where 
waiteih far tbee, lliou canst nor flee from it whithersoever thou 
hurrjest, tor whirhersoever ihou comcstT cbou bearesL thyself with 
Ehee, and shall ever lind thyself. Turn [bee above, turn [hize below, 
turn ihee without, turn thee within, and in them all thou ihak tind 
the Cross; and needful is it that thou everywhere possess patience 
if fhtiu wilt have internal peace and ^ain the everlasting crown. 

5. If thou willingly bear the Cross, it will bear thee, and will bring 
thee to the end which thou seekest, even where there shall be the 
end of sufcing; though it shall not be here. If thou bear it un- 
willingly, thou makcst a burden for thyself and greatly increaseth 
ihy load, and yet thon must bear it. If thou cast away one cross, 
without doubt tliou shait find another and perchance a heavier. 

6. Thinkcst tbou to escape what no mortal hath been able to 
avoid? Which of the saints in the world hath been without the cross 
and tribulation? For not even Jesus Christ our Lord was one hour 
Without ibe anguish of His Passioii, so long as He lived. It behooved, 
He said, Christ lo sh^c and to rise jjom the dead, and so enter into 
his gtoTy^ And how dost thou seek another way than this royal ivay, 
which is the way of the Holy Cross? 

7. The whole life of Christ was a cross ahd martvrdoni, aiid dost 
thou seek for thyself rest and joy? Thou art wrong, thou art 
wrong, if thou seekest aught but to suffer tribulations, for this whole 
mortal life is full of miseries, and set round with crosses. And the 
higher a man haih advanced in the spirit, the heavier crosses he will 
often hnd, because the sorrow of his banisliment increaseth with the 
strength of his love. 

8. But yet the man who is thus in so many wise affticied, is not 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 255 

without refreshment of consoblionj bec^u^ he feeleih abundant 
fruic to be growing vviihin him out of the beting of his cross. For 
whilst he willingly subniiiteth himsdf to it, ev^ry burden of tribu- 
lation is turned into an assurance of divine comfort, and the more 
the flesh is wasted by afHiction, the more is the spirit strengthened 
mightily by inward grace. And ofitimes so gFc:Lt]y is he comforted 
by the desire for tribularion and adversity, ihrough love of caa- 
formiiy to the Cross of Christ, thai he would not be without sortavv 
and tribulation; for he believeth that he shall be the more acceptable 
- to God, the more and the heavier burdens he is able to bear £or His 
I sake. This is not the virtue of man, but the grace of Christ which hatU 
^ such power and energy in the weak fiesh, that what it naturally 
S haieih and fleeih from, this it draweth to and loveth through fer- 
5 vour of spirit. 
\ 9. It is not in ihe nature of man to bear the cross, to love the crossi 

■ i to keep under the body and to bring if into subjection, to fly from 
[ } honours, to bear reproaches meekly^ to despise self and desire to be 

despised, to bear all adversities and losses, and to desire no pros- 
perity in this world- If thou iookest to thyself, thou wilt of thyself 
I ' be able to do none of this; but if ihou trustest in the Lord, endur- 
ance shall be given thee from heaven, and the world and the fiesh 

■ ■ shall be made subject to thy command. Yea, thou shalt not even 
fear thine adversary ihe devil, if ihou be armed with faith and signed 
with the Cross of Christ. 

10, Set thyself, therefore, like a good and faithful servant o£ Christ, 
to the manful bearing of the Cross of thy I^rd, who out of love was 
crucified for thee. Prepare thyself for the bearing many adversities 
and manifold troubles in this wretched life; because so it shall be 
with thee wheresoever thou art, and so in very deed thou shale find 
it, wherever thou hide thyself. This it must be; and diere is no 
means of escaping from tribulation and sorrow^ except to bear them 
patiently. Drink ihot: lovingly thy Lord's cup if ihou desircst to 
he His friend and to have thy lot with Him. Leave consolations 
to God, let Him do as seemeth best to Him concerning them. But 
do thou set thyself to endure tribulations, and reckon them the best 
consolations; for /At sa^crings of this present time itre not worthy 



« \ 



% 



256 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

la if? compared with the glory tuhch shall be revsalsd in us, nor 
vould they be even if thou werf to endure chem all. 

ii. When thou h;)si come lo ihrs, thyt tribiilation is sweet and 
pjeasani to thee for Christ's sake, then reckon that it is well with thee, 
]>ecause thou has! found p.iradise on earth. So long as it is hard to 
ihee to suffer and thou dcsirest to escape^ so long it will not be well 
with tbee» and iribulations will EoUow thee everywhere, 

12. If thou iellGSL thyself to that chou oughtesi, namely, to suHer 
and to die, it sliall soon go better with thee, and thou shalt find 
peace. Though thou shouldest be caught up with Paul unto the 
third heaven,^ thou art not on that account secure from sufTcring 
evil. / will show him, saith Jesus, it^hat great things he tnnst sufjer 
jor My Name's sa/{c.^ It remaineth, ihereEore, to thee to suffer, if 
ihou will love Jesus and si^rve Him condnually. 

13. Oh thai thou weri worthy to suffer something for the name 
of jesus, how great glory should await thee, what rejoicing among 
all the saints of God, what bright example also to thy neighbour! 
For ail men commenJ patience, ahhough few be willing Co practisi: 
Tt. Thou oughlest surely to suffer a hide for Christ when many suffer 
heavier things for rhe world. 

14. Know thou of a surety that thou oughtest to lead the life of a 
dying man. And the more a man dieih to himself, the more he 
beginnclh to live towards God. None is fit for the understanding of 
heavenly thinp, unless he hath submitted himself to bearing ad' 
versilies for Christ. Nothing more acceptable to Godj nothing more 
healthful for thyself in this world, than to suffer willingly for Christ. 
And if it were thine to choose, thou oughlest rather to wish lo suffer 
Tjdversities for Christ, than to be refreshed with manifold consola- 
tions, for thou wouldest be more like Christ and more conformed 
10 all saints- For our worthiness and growth in graci? lieth not in 
many delights and consolationsj but rather in bearing many troubles 
and adversities. 

15. If indeed there had been anything better and more profitable 
to the health of men than to suffer, Christ would surely have shown 
it by word and example. For both the disciples who followed Hirn, 
and all who desire to follow Him, He plainly eshorieib to bear 

^Romam viii. iS. ^3 Corinthians xii. a. 'Acts. is. 16. 



THE IMITATIOM OF CimiST 257 

iheir cross, and sailh, // any i}7ari mil come ajur Mt^. let him deny 
himscll and ta{e up Ms cross, and joiloiu Me' So now th^f we h^ive 
choroujihiy read and studied all things, Ij^e us hLsr [he conclusion o£ 

the whole mnticr. We must through much uibukt'ton enter into the 
f{ingdom of Cod? 

'Lube k. 2!. 'Acts xiv. zi. 



THE THIRD BOOK 

ON INWARD CONSOLATION 
CHAPTER 1 

OF T^LE IKWAUQ VOICE OF CHRIST TO THE FAITHFUL SOUL 

/WILL hearken what the Lord God shait say wttMn tne} 
Blessed is ihc sou^ which htjrEth the Lort! speaking wiihin 
it, and recetiveih ihe word of consobiion from His mouih. 
Blifssed iirc ihe cars which receive ihe echoes ot ihc soft whisper of 
God, and lurn not aside to the whisperings of this world. Blessed 
truly are the ears which listen not to the vcici? that soundeih without, 
but Eo thai which teacheth Truth inwardly. Blessed are ihe eyes 
which are closed to things without* but are fixed upon things within, 
Blessed are they who search inwifrd things and study to prepare 
themselves more and more by daily exercises for the receiving of 
heavenly mysteries. Blessed are (hey who long to have leisure for 
God* and free themselves from every hindr,ince of the world. Think 
on rhese things* O my soul, and shut the donrs of ihy carnal desires, 
so mayest thou hear what the Lord God will say within ihee, 

2. These things saith thy Beloved, '1 am ihy salvation, I am ihy 
peace and thy hfe. Keep thee unto Me, and ihou shalt lind peace/' 
Put away thee all traniitory things, seek those things that are eternal. 
For what are ail temporal things but deceits^ and what shall all 
created things help thee if thou be forsaken by the Creator? There- 
fore put all things else away, and give thyself to the Creator, to be 
well pleasing and faithful to Him^ diat thou mayest be able to attain 
tEue blessedness. 



338 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 259 

CHAPTER II 

WHAT THE TRUTH SAJTH 1NWAR1>LV WITITOUT VOISE OF WORDS 

SrE^iK Lord, for thy servant heareth} I am Thy iervant; give 
me understanding that I may kjtow Thy testimonies, incline my 
heart unto the wards of Thy mouth} Let thy speech distil as the 
dew. The children of Israel spake in old time To Moses, Speaks ihott 
unto us and we will hear, but let not the Lord spca\ unto us lest 
we die} Not lIius, O Lord, not thus do I pray, but rather wuh 
Samuel the prophet, I beseech Thee humbly and earnestly, Speak., 
Lord, jar Thy servant heareih. Let not Moses speak to me, nor any 
prophet, but raiher speak Thou, O Lord, who didst inspire and 
illjminate all the prophets; for Thou alone without them canst per- 
fectly fill me with knowledge, whilst they without Thee shall profit 
nothing. 

2. Thffy can indeed utter words, but they give not the spirit. They 
speak with exceeding beauty, but when Thou art silent they kindle 
not the heart. They give us scriptures, but Thou makest known 
the sense thereof. They bring us mysteries, but Thou revealesE the 
things which are signified. They utter command menrSj but Thau 
helpest to the fuEfilJing o£ them. They show the way, but Thou 
givest strength for the journey. They act only outwardly^ but Thou 
dost instruct and enlighten the heart. They water, but Thou givest 
ihe increase. They cry with words, but Thou givest understanding 

i to the hearer. 

f 3, Therefore let not Moses speak to me, but Thou, O Lord my 
God, Eternal Truth; lest I die and bring forth no fruit, being out- 

\ wardly admonished, but not enkindled within^ lest the word heard 
but not followed) known but not loved, believed but not obeyed, rise 

t{- up against me in the judgment. Speal^. Lord, for Thy servant heur- 
eth; Thou hast the words of eternal life} Speak unto me for some 
consolation unto my soul, for the amendment of my whole life, and 
for the praise and glory and eternal honour of Thy Name. 

^I SamuEl iii. 9. ^Psilm cylyi. 125. ^ E^oJus x\. 19. ■■ JoLn vi. 6S, 



260 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

CHAPTER III 

HOW ALL THE WORDS OF f^OD ARE TO BE ireARD Wim HUMILITY, 
AND HOW MANY CON'SfOEK THEM NOT 

"Mv Son, hear My words, for My words are tnosL sweer, surpass- 
ing ^11 the knowledge of the philosophers and wise men of this 
world. My words are spirit, and they ars Ijfc,^ and are not to be 
weighed by main's understanding. They are not to be drawn forth 
for vain approbation, bin 10 be heard in silence, and to be received 
with all humility and with deep love," 

2, And I said, "Blessed h the man whotn Thou teuchi^st, Lord, 
and instrucUil him in Thy law, thai Thou mayest give him rest In 
time 0} adfersity? and (hat he be not desolate in the earth.*^ 

3, *'V saith the Lord, ''taught the prophets from the beginning, 
and even now c^a^^ I not to speak unto all; but many are dc.if and 
hardened against My voice" many love to listen to the world rather 
than to God, they follow after the desires of the flesh more readily 
than after the good pleasure of God. The world promiseth things 
that are temporal and small, and if is served with great eagerness. 
1 promise things that are great and eternal, and the hearts of mor- 
tals are slow to stir. Who serveth and obeyeth Me in all things, with 
such carefulness as be serveth the world and its rulers? 

Be thou ashamed, O Sidan, saiih the aea;^ 
And if thou reason seokcst, hear ihou me. 

For a little reward men make a long journey; for eternal life many 

wiU scarce lift a foot once from the ground. Mean reward is sought 

after; for a single piece of money sometimes there is shameful 

striving; for a thing which is vain and for a trifling promise, men 

shrink not from toiling day and night." 

4, *3ut, O shame! for an unchangeable good, for an inestimable 
reward, for the highest honour and for a glory that fadeth not away, 
it is irksome to them to toil even a Httle, Be thou ashamed there- 
fore, slothful and discontented servant, for they are found readier 
unto perdition than thou unto life. They rejoice more heartily in 
vanity than thou in the truth- Sometimes, indeed, they are disap- 

MoLn li. 63. ^Ps:ilm ntiv. it. ^halah ^viii, 4. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 26I 

pointed of their hope, but my promise faileih no man^ nor sendeth 
away empiy him who trusteth in Mc What I have promised I will 
give; whac 1 have said I will fultil; if only a man lem.iin faithful 
in My love unto the end. Ihereforc am I [he rcwatder of all good 
men» and a strong approver of all who are godly, 

5. "Write My words in thy heart and consider them diligently, 
for they shall be vpry ncediul to thee in time oi temptation. What 
thou understande^t raoi when thou readesc, thou shalr know in ihe 
time of thy visitation. 1 am wont to visit Mine ek« in twofold 
manner, even by lempiatioLi aiid by comfort, and 1 teach them two 
lessons day by day, the one in chiding their faults, the other in 
exhorting them to grow in grace. He who hath My words and 
reJECteth them, hath one who shall jtidge him at the lasc day." 

A PRAVEfl FOR TH^ iPTRIT OF DEVOTIO>; 

6. O Lord my God, Thou art all my good, and who am I that T 
should dare to speak unto Thee.* I am the very poorest of Thy serv- 
ants, an abject worm, much poorer and more despicable than 1 know 
or dare to say. Nevertheless remember, O Lord, that I am nothing, 
I have nothrng, and can do nothing. Thou only art good, just and 
hofy; Thou can^t do all things, art over all things, fiUesi all chingi, 
leaving empty only the sinner. Call to mind Thy tender mercies, and 
fill my heart with Thy grace, ThoQ who wilt not that Thy work 
should return to Thee void. 

7. How can I bear this miserable life unless Thy mercy and grace 
strengthen me? Turn not away Thy face from me, delay not Thy 
visitation. Withdraw not Thou Thy comfort from me, lest my soul 
'*gasp after thee as a thirsty land." Lord, teach mc to do Thy will, 
teach me to walk humbly and uprightly before Thee^ for Thou art 
my wisdom, who knowest me in truth, and knewesc me before 
the world was made and before 1 was born into the world. 

CHAPTER iV 

HOW WI MUSr WALK IN TTtlmj AVD HUMILITY BEFORE COD 

"Mv Son! walk before Me in truths and in the simplicity of thy 
heart seek Me continually. He who walketh before Me in the truth 



11, 



262 THE IMITATIOM OF CtlKlST 

shall be safe from evil assaults^ and the truth shall ddiver him from 
the wiles and slanders o£ the wicked. If the iruth shall make ihee 
free, ihou shah be free indeed, and shalt not care for the vaia words 
of men." 

2. Lord, it is true as Thou sayest; let it» I pray Thee, be so with 
me; let Thy truth icach me, let it keep me and preserve me safe unto 
the end. Let it free me from all evil and inordinate aUectioa^ and 
I will walk before Thee ia great freedom of heart. 

3. "1 will leach thee," saith the Truth, "the things which are right 
and pleasing before Me. Think upon thy sins wish great displeasure 
and sorrow, and never think thj'self anything because o£ thy good 
works. Verily thou art a sinner^ liable 10 many passions^ yea, lied 
and bound with them. Of thyself thou always tendest unto nothing, 
thou wih quickly fall^ quickly be conquered, quickly disturbed, 
quickly undone. Thou hast nought whereof to glory, but many 
reasons why thou shouldest reckon thyself vile, for ihou art far 
weaker than thou art able to comprehend. 

H^ *Tet, therefore, nothing which tliou docst seem to thee great; 
let nothing be grand, noihing o£ value or beauty, nothing worrhy 
of honourj nothing lofty, nothing praiseworthy or desirable, save 
what IS eternal. Let the eternal truth please thee above all ihings, 
let thine own great vileness displease thee continually. Fear, de- 
nounce, Eee nothing so much as thine own faults and sins, which 
ought to be more displeasing to thee than any lo^s whatsoever of 
goods. There are some who walk not sincerely before me, but being 
led by curiosity and pride, they desire to know my secret things and 
to understand the deep things of God, whilst they neglect themselves 
snd their salvation. These often fall into great temptations and sins 
because of their pride and curio:;ity, fur I am againsr tliem. 

5. "Fear thou the judgments of God, fear greatly the wrath of 
the Almighty. Shrink from debating upon the works of the Most 
High^ but search narrowly thine own iniquities into what great sins 
thou hast fallen, and how many good things thou hast neglected. 
There are some who carry their devotion only in books, some in 
pictures, some in outward signs and figures; some have Me in their 
mouths, but little in their hearts. Others there are who, being en- 
lightened in their understanding and purged in their affections, con- 



THE IMITATIOX OF CHRIST 263 

tinuaUy long aiiet eternal things^ hear of earLhJy things wiih 
unwilliagness, obey the necessities of nature with sorrow. And these 
unHcristand what [he Spirit of truth speaketh in them; for He teach- 
eth them to despise earthly things and ro love he-ivenly; to neglect 
the woild and to desire heaven ail the day and nigh:." 

CHAPTER V 

OF THE WONDEPtUL POSVER OF THE DIVINE LOVE 

I BLESS Thee* O Heavenly Father. Father of my Lord Jesns Christ, 
for that Thou hast vouchsafed to think of me, poor that 1 am. O, 
Father of Mercies and God of all comfort,^ 1 give tlianks unto Thee, 
who refreshest me sometimes with thine own comfort, when 1 am 
unworthy of any comfort, i bless and glorify Thee continually, 
with thine only begotten Son and the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, for 
ever and ever. O Lord God, Holy lover of my soul, when Thou 
shak come into my heart, all my inward parts shall rejoice. Thou 
art my glory and the joy of my bean. Thou art my hope and my 
refuge in the day of my trouble. 

2. But because I am still weak in love and imperfect in virtue, Z 
need to be strengthened and comforted by Thee; therefore visit Thou 
me often and instruct me with Thy holy ways of discipline. De- 
liver me from evil passions, and cleanse my heart from all inordinate 
alfections, that, being healed and altogether cleansed within, I may 
be made ready to love, strong to suffer, steadfast to endure. 

3. Love is a great thing, a good above aU others, which alone 
makerh every heavy burden light, and equaliseth every inequality. 
For it beareth the burden and maketh it no bmden, it makeih every 
bitter thing to be sweet and of good taste. The surpassing love of 
Jesus impelleth to great works, and ejrciteth to the continual desir- 
ing of greater perfection. Love willeth to be raised up, and not to be 
held down by any mean thing. Love willeth to be free and aloof 
from all worldly affection, lest its inward power of vision be hin- 
dered, lest il be entangled by any worldly prosperity or overcome by 
adversity. Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger, nothing 
loftier, nothing broader, nothing pleasanter, nothing fuller or better 

1 1 CDriaihi;iit3 i. 3- 



264 THE IMITATION OF CHKIST 

m heaven nor on ejrrtli* for love was born of God and cannot lest 
save in God above all created things- 

4. He who loveih flycth, rui^[iciJi» and is giad; he U free and not 
hindered. He giveth all ihings for all things, and hath all things in 
all thingSj because he resteth in One who is high above all, from 
whom every good floweth and proceedeih. He lookedi not for gifts, 
but turneth himself to the Giver above all good things. Love ofcen- 
draes knowelh no measure, bui breaketh out above all measure; love 
feeleth no burden, reekoneth not labours, striveth after mare than 
it is able to do, pleadeth not impossibility, because it judgech all 
diings which are lawful for it to be possible. It is strong therefore for 
all things, and it fulfilleth many things, and is successfiil where he 
who loveth not faileth and iieih down. 

5. Lave is watchful, and ^vhilEt sleeping still keepeth watch; 
though fatigued it is not weary, though pressed it is not forced, 
tliough alarmed it is not terrified, but like the living flame and the 
burning torch, it breakcth forth on high and securely [rrumphcth. 
If a man loveth, he knoweth what this voice crleih. For die ardent 
aifection of the soul is a great clamour in the ears of God, and 
it saith: My God, my Belovedl Thou art all niinoj and 1 am all 
Thine. 

6. Enlarge Thou me in love, that I may learn to taste with the 
innermost mouth of my heart how sweet it is to love, to be dis- 
solved, and to swim in love. Let me be holden by love, mounting 
above myself through exceeding fervour and admirarion. Let me 
sing the song of love, let me follow Thee my Beloved on high, let 
my sou] exhaust itself in Thy praise, exulting with love. Let me love 
Thee more than myself, not loving myself except for Thy sake, and 
all men in Thee who truly love Thect as the law of love command' 
eth which shineth forth from Thee- 

7. Love is swiftj sincere, pious, pleasant, gentle, strong, patient, 
faithful, prudent, long-suffering, manly, and never seeking her own; 
for wheresoever a man seokelh his own, there he fallcdi from love, 
Lc}ve is circumspect, humble, and upright; not weak, not fickle, nor 
intent on vain [hings; sober, chaste, steadfast, quiet, and guarded 
in all the senses. Love is subject and obedient to all that are in au- 
thority, vile and lowly in its own sight, devout and graceful towards 



j' 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 265 

God, faithful and always trusting in Him even when God tiideth 
His face, for wiihouf sorrow we cannot live in love. 

3. He who is noi ready to suffer all things, and to conform 10 tbe 
will of the Beloved, is not worthy to be called a lover of God, It 
behoveth him who loveth 10 embrace wiUingly all hard and biiier 
things for the Beloved's siike, and not to he drawn away ftom Him 
because of any contrary accidciirs. 

CHAPTER VI 

OF TITE PROVING OF THE TRVE LOVER 



"My Son, thou :irt not yoi strong and prudent in ihy love.** 

2, Wherefore, O my Lord? 

3. "Because for a liule opposition thou fallesi away from thy un- 
dertakings, and too eagerly seekest after consolation. The strong 
lover scandeth fast in tempEaitonsj and bclieveth not the evil per- 
suasions of the enemy. As in prosperity I please him, so in adversity 
I do not displease, 

V 4. "The prudent lover considereth not the gift oE ihe lover so much 
as the love of (he giver. He lookeih for the affection more than the 
value, and seiieih all gifts lower than ihe Bcfoved. The noble lover 
resteih not in the gift, but in Me above every gift. 

5. "All is not lost, though thou someiimes think of Me or of My 
saints, less than ihou shouldest desire- That good and sweet alTec- 

- tion which thou sometimes perceivest is the effect of present grace 
and some foretaste of the heavenly country; but hereon thou must 
not too much depend, for it goeth and cometh- But 10 strive against 
the evil motions of the mind which come lo us, and to resist the 
suggestions of the devil, is a token of virtue and great nierit. 

6. "Therefore let not strange fancies disturb thee, whencesoever 
they arise. Bravely observe thy purpose and thy upright intentioni 

"towards God. It is not an illusion when thou art someiimes sud- 

l^enly carried away into rapEure, and Lhcn suddenly art brought back 

' |lo the wonted vanities of thy heart. For thou dost rather unwiUingly 

' i^ndergo rhem ihan cause them; and so long as ihey displease thee 

^and thou strivest against them, it is a merii and no loss. 

J. "Know ihou that thine old enemy altogether strivcth to hinder 



266 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

rhy pursuit after good, and to deter thee from every godly exercise, 
W wit» [he contemplation of ihe Saints, the pious remembrance of 
My pHSsion, the ptoJiiable rccolleciioii of iin, the keeping of thy 
own heart, and the sleadfjst purpose to grow in virtue. He sug- 
gesteth to thee many evil tlioughts, that he may work in thee weari- 
ness 3nd terror, and so draw thee aivay from prayer and holy reading. 
Humble confession dispkaseth him, and if he were ^ible he would 
make thee to cease from Comrnunion, Believe him not, nor heed 
him, though many a time he hath laid for thee the snares of deceit. 
Account it to be from him, u'hcn he suggesteth evil and unclean 
thoughts. Say unto him, 'Depart unclean spirit; put on shame, 
misecahle one; horribly unclean art thou, who bringcat such things 
tomineears. Depart from me, detestable deceiver; thou shak have no 
part in me; but Jesus shall be with me, as a strong warrior, and 
thou shalt stand confounded. Rather would I die and bear all suffer- 
ing, than consent unto thee. Hold thy peace and be dumb; 1 will nor 
hear thee more, though thou ploitest more snares against me- The 
Lord is jjiy light and my sali/atioti: whom then shall i feay? Though 
it host of men should rise up against -me. yet shall nut jny hearl be 
afraid. The Lord fs my strength and my Redeemer.'^ 

8. "Strive thou like a good soldier; and if sometimes thou fail 
through weakness, put on thy strength more bravely than before, 
trusting in My more abundant grace, and take thou much heed of 
vain confidence and pride. Because of it many are led into error, 
and sometimes fall info blindness well-nigh irremediable. Let this 
ruin of the proud, who foolishly lift themselves up, be to tbee for a 
warning and a continual exhortation to humility," 

CHAPTER VII j 

OP UmTNG OUR OE^CE UNDER THE GUARD OF HUMILlTV J 

r 

"My Son» it is better and safer for thee to hide the grace of devo- > 
tion, and not to lift thyself up on high, nor to speak much thereof, 
nor to value it greatly; but rather to despise thyself, and to fear as 
though this grace were given to one unworthy thereof. Nor must 
thou depend too much upon this feeling, for it can very quickly be 

^Psalms XK\\i. i'y, k[>^ 14. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 267 

turned into iis opposite. TTiink when ihou arE in ^ slate of gi^ce how 
miserable and poor thou art wont co be withouc grace. Nor is there 
advance in spirituril life iw this ,^!one» that thou hast the grace ot 
consolaiion. but thai thou humbly jnd unselfishly and patiendy 
lakesi [lie wi[hdra\v:il thereof; so ihai thou cease not from the exer- 
cise of prayer, nor suiler thy other common duties to be in anywise 
neglected; rather do thy task more readily^ as though thou hadst 
gained more strength and knowledge; and do not altogether neglect 
thyself because of the dearth and anjiiety of spirit which thou feelest. 

2. 'Tor there are many who, \^'hen things have noi gone prosper- 
ous with ihem, become forlhwilh impatient or slothful. For the rs/ay 
of a ifiiiTi rs jiot in himselj^ but it is God's to give and to console^ 
when He will, and as much as He wiEl, and whom He will, as it 
shall please Him, and no further. Some who were presumptuous 
because of the grace of devotion within them, have destroyed them- 
selves, because they would do more than ihey were able, not consider- 
ing the measure of their own littleness, but rather following the 
Ttnpulie of the heart than the judgment of the reason. And because 
they presumed beyond what was well-pleasJng unto God, therefore 
they quickly lost grace. They became poor and were left vile, who 
had built for themselves their nest in heaveni so that being humbled 
and stricken wish poverty, ihey might learn not to fly with their o^vn 
wings, but to put their trust under My feathers. They who are as 
yet new and unskilled in the way of the Lord, unless they rule diem- 
selves after the counsel of the wise* may easily be deceived and led 
away. 

3. "Uut if they wish to follow their own fancies rather than trust 
the experience of others, the result will be very dangerous to them if 
they still refuse to be drawn away from their own notion. Those 
who are wise in their own conceits, seldom patiendy endure to be 
ruled by others. It is better to have a small portion of wisdom with 
humility, and a slender understanding, than great treasures of sci- 
eoces with vain self-esteem- it is better for thee to have less than 
much of what may make thee proud. He doeth not very discreetly 
who giveth himself entirely to joy, forgetting his former helpless- 
ness and the chaste fear of the Lord, which feareth to lose the grace 

^ Jeremiah x. 2.^. 



268 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

o£ered. Nor is he very wise, after a manly sort, who m time of ad- 
versity, or any troubie whatsoever, bcareth himself too despairingly, 
and feeleih concerning Me less trustfully than he ought. 

4- "He who in time oi peace willcih to be oveisecure shall be 
often found in time of war overdi spirited and full of fears. I£ thou 
knewest always how to continue humble and moderate in thyseU, 
and to guide and rule thine own spirit well, thou wouldest not so 
quickly fall into danger and mischief- It is good counsel that when 
fervour of spirif is kindled, thou shouldest meditate how it will be 
with thee when the light is taken away. Which when ft doth happen, 
remember that btill the light may return again, which I have taken 
away for a time f<ir a warning to thee, and also for mine own glory. 
Such a trial is often more useful than if thou hadst always diinga 
prosperous according to thine own will. 

5- "For merits are not to be reckoned by this, that a man hath 
many visions or consolations, or that he is skilled in the Scriptures, 
or that he is placed in a high situation; but that he is grounded upon 
true humility and filled with divine charity, that he always purely 
and uprigluly seeketh (he honour of God, that he seiieth not by him- 
self, but unfeignedly despiseth himself, and even rejoiceth to be 
despised and humbled by others more than to be honoured." 

CHAPTER VllI 

OF A LOW ESTIMATION Ot SELF IN THE SIGHT OF GOD 

I WILL speak unto my Lord who am but dust and ashes. H T count 
myself more, behold Thou standesr against me, and my iniquities 
bear true testimony, and I cannot gainsay it. But if 1 abase myself, 
and bring myself to nought, and shrink from all self-esteem, and 
griud myself to dust, which 1 am, Thy grace will be favourable 
unto me» and Thy light will be near unto my heart; and all self- 
esteem, how litde soever it be, shall be swallowed up in the depths 
of my nothingness, and shall perish for ever- There Thou showest 
to me myself, what I am, what 1 was, and whither 1 have come: so 
foolish was I and ignorant} If 1 am left to myself, behold 1 am 

' Pulni ]K:iiL. 11. 



J 



THE IMITATION' OF CHRIST 269 

nothing, I am all weakness; buE if stiddenly Thou look upon me, im- 
mediateiy I am mads strongs and fiUed with new joy. And it Is 
great marvel thai i am so suddenly lifted up, and so graciously 
embraced by Thee, since ! am always being carried to the deep by 
my own weight. 

2. This is the doing of Thy love which freely goeth before me 
and succoureih me in so many necessities, which guardeth me also in 
great dangers and snatcheth me, as I may truly say, from innumer- 
able evils. For verily^ by loving myself amiss, I lost myself, and by 
seeking and sincerely loving Thee alone, I found both myself and 
Thee, and through love I have brought myself to yet deeper noth- 
ingness: because Thou, O most sweet Lord, dealest with me beyond 
afl merit, and above all which I dare ask or think. 

3. Blessed be Thou, O my God, because though I be unworthy o£ 
all Thy benefits, Thy bountiful and infinite goodness never ceaseth 
to do good even to ingraies and to those who are turned far from 
Thee. Turn Thou us unto Thyself, that we may be grateful, humble, 
and godly, for Thou art our salvation, our courage, and our strength. 

CHAPTER IX 

THAT ALL THfNGS ARE TO BE REKERRtJJ TO COD. AS THE FINAL EXl> 

"Mv Son, I must be thy Supreme and final end, if thou dcsirest 
to be truly happy. Out of such purpose thy affection shall be puri- 
fied, which loo often is sinfully bent upon itself and upon created 
things. For if thou seekest thyself in any matter, straightway thou 
wilt fail within thyself and grow barren. Therefore refer everything 
to Me first of all, for it is 1 who gave thee all- So look upon each 
blessing as flowing from the Supreme Good, and thus all things are 
to be attributed to Me as their source, 

2. "From Me the humble and great, the poor and the rich, draw 
water as from a living fountain, and those who serve Me with a 
free and faithful spirit shall receive grace for grace. But he who will 
glory apart from Me, or will be delighted with any good which lieth 
in himself, shall not be established in true joy. nor shall be enlarged 
\i in heart, but shall be greatly hindered and thrown into tribulation. 



270 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

Therefore thou must noi ascribe any good to thyself, nor look upon 
virtue os belonging to any man, but Jiscribe it all unto God, without 
whom man hath nothing. I gave Jill, I will receive all again, and 
with great strictness require I the giving of thanks. 

3. "This IS [he Truth, and by it the vanity of bH:fasting is put to 
flight. And if heavenly grace and true charity shall enter into thee, 
there shall be no envy, nor straitening of the heart, nor shall any 
scIf-Eove take possession of [hee. For divine charity conquercEh all 
things, and enlargeth all the powers of the soul. If thou art truly 
■wise, thou will rejoice in Me alone, tliou wilt hope in Me alone; for 
there is none good bat one, that is God.^ Who is to be praised above 
all things, and in all things to receive blessing," 

CHAPTER X 

TtlAT IT IS SWEET TO DESPISE THE WOELD AND TO SERVE GOD 

Now will I speak again, O my Lord, and hold not my peace; I 
will say in the ears of my God, my Lord, and my King, who is 
exaked above all, Oh how plenUjui is Thy goodness which Thou 
h-tist laid ifp for them thai: feiir Thee'} But what art Thou to those 
who love Thee? What to those who serve Thee with their whole 
heart? Truly unspeakable is the sweetness of the contemplation of 
Thee, whith Thou bestowest upon those who love Thee. In [his most 
of ?ll Thou hast showed me the sweetness of Thy charity, that when 
1 was not, Thou madest me, and wlien I wandered far from Thee, 
Thou broughtest me back that 1 might serve Tliee^ and commandedst 

me to love Thee. 

2. O Fountain of perpetual love, what shall I say concerning Thee? 
How shall I be unmindful of Thee, who didst vouchsafe to remem- 
ber me, even after I pined away and perished? Thou hast had mercy 
beyond all hope upon Thy servant, ^nd hast showed Thy grace and 
friendship beyond all deserving. What reward shall I render Thee 
for this Thy graceF For it is not given unto all to renounce this 
world and its ailairs, and to lake up a religious life. For is it a great 

' Lultc Kviii. 19. ^ Pialni ixsi. Ji- 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 27! 

thing chat I should serve Thee» whom every creaturo ought to serve? 
Ii ought not to seem a great thing to me to serve Thee; but rather 
this appeareth to me a great and wonderful thingi that Thou vouch- 
safest to receive as Thy servant one so poor and unworthy, and to 
join him unto Thy chosen servants, 

3. Behold all thing? which I have are Thine, and with them I 
serve Thee. And yet verily it is Thou who sserveit nic, rjcher than 
t Thee. liehold the he-iveii and die earth which Thou hast created 
for the service of men; ihcy aro at Thy bidding, and perform daily 
whatsoever Thou dosE command. Yea, and diis is little; for Thou 
hasc even ordained the Angels for the service of man. But it sur- 
passeth even all these Fhings, that Thou Thyself didst vouchsafe to 
minister unto man, and didst promise that Thou wouldest give 
Thyself unio him, 

4. What shall I render unto Thee for all these Thy manifold 
mercies? Oh tliat 1 were abfe to secve Thee all the days of my life! 
Oh chat even for one day I were enabled to do Thee service worthy 
of Thyself! For verily Thou art worthy of all service, all honour, 
and praise without end. Verily Thou art my God^ and 1 am Thy 
poor servant, who am bound to serve Thee with all my strengvh, nor 
ought 1 ever to grow weary of Thy praise. I'his Is my wish, this 
is my exceeding great desire, and whatsoever is lacking to me, vouch- 
safe Thou to supply. 

5. Ir is great honour, great glory to serve Thee, and to despise 
all for Thy sake. For they shall have great grace who of their own 
will shall submit themselves to Thy most holy service. They who for 
Thy love have cast away every carnal delight shall fintl the sweetest 
consolation of the Holy Ghost. They who enter the narrow way o£ 
life for Thy Name's sake, and have put away all worldly cares, 
shall attain great liberty of spirit, 

6. Oh grateful and delightsome service of God, whereby man is 
made truly free and holyl Oh sacred condition of the religious serv- 
ant, which makeih man equal to the Angels, well-pleasing unto God, 
terrible to evil spirits, and acceptable to ah faithful ones! Oh service 
fo be embraced and ever desired, in which the highest good is prom- 
ised, and joy is gained which shall remain for evermore! 



272 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

CHAPTER XI 

THAT THE PESIBES OF THE HEART AEE TO BE EXAMINED AND GOVEBXETl 

"My Soil, ihou ^^st Still many iliings to leiirn, which ihou hast 
nor well learned yet/* 

2, What are they, Lord? 

3, "To pbce chy desire aliogeihet in subjection to My good |)Ie:is- 
ure, and not lo be a lover of thyself, btic an earneit ^eek^r of My 
will. Thy desires often excite and uige [hee forward; but consider 
with thyself whether ihou art not more moved for ihine own ob- 
jects than for My honour. Jf it is Myself that thou seekesi, thou 
shalt be well content with whatsoever 1 shall ordain; but if any pur- 
suit of thine own heih hidden wjihin ihee, behold it is this which 
hindereth ;ind weigheth thee down. 

4. ''Beware^ therefore, Ic^t thou strive too earnestly after some 
desire which ihou hasr conceived, withotn taking counsel of Me; lest 
haply it repent thee afterwards, and that displease thee which before 
pleased, and for which thou didst long as for a great good. For not 
every affecdon which seemerh good is Eo be forrhwiih followed; 
neither is every opposite affection Co be immediately avoided, Som&- 'i 
times it is expedient to use restraint even in good desires and wishes, J 
lest through importunity thou fall into distraction of mind» lest 
through want of discipline ihou become a stumbling-block to others, 
or lest by the resistance of others thou be suddenTy disturbed and 
brought to confusion. 

5. "Sometimes, indeed, it is needful to use violence, and manfully 
to strive against the sensual appetite, and not to consider what th 
flesh may or not will; but rather lu strive after this, that it may 
come subject, however unwillingly, to the spirit. And for so long i 
ought to be chastised and compelled to undergo slavery, even unti 
it be ready for all things, and learn to be contented with little, to b 
delighted with things simple, and never to murmur at any incon; 
venience." 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 273 

CHAPTER XII 

OF TilE INWARD KROMTK C3F pATtESCE, AN'U 01- TI[E STRUGGLE 

A4:AlSSr EVIL DE5IBES 

O Loud God, I see th;ii: patience is very necessary unio me; for 
many things in ihis life fall out contrary. For howsoever I may have 
contrived for my peace, my life caiiiiot go on without strife and 
trouble. 

2. "Thou speakest iruly. My Son- Fof I will not that ihou seek 
such a peace as is without trids* and knowetK no adversities; but 
Tnither that thou shouldest judge thyself to have found peace, when 
rhou art tried with manifold iribubiions, and proved by many ad- 
versities. If thou shak say that thou art not able 10 bear much, how 
then wilr thou susiain the iire hereafter? Of two evils we should 
always choose the less. Therefore^ that thou mayest escape eternal 
torments hereafter, sirivc on God's behulf to endure present evils 
bravely. Thinkest thou that the children of this world suffer nought^ 
or but little? Thou wilt not find it so, even though thou find out rhe 
most prosperous. 

3. "'But/ thou wilf say. *they have many delights, and they fol- 
low their own wiUs^ and thus they bear lightly their trihubtions/ 

4. "Be [I so, grant that they have what they list; but how long, 
thinkest thou, will it last? Behold, like the smoke those who are 
rich in this world wilt pass away, and no record shall remain of their 
past joys. Yea, even while they yet live, they rest not without bitter- 
ness and weariness and fear. For from the very same thing wherein 
they find delight, thence they oftentimes have the punishment of 
sorrow. Jusily it befalleih them, that because out of measure they 
seek out and pursue pleasures, they enjoy them not without con- 
fusion and bitierness. Oh how short, how false, how inordinate and 
wicked are all these pleasures! Yet because of their sottishness and 
bhndness men do not understand; but like brute beasts, for the sake 
of a little pleasure of this corruptible life, they incur death of the 
souL Thou therefore, my son, go not after thy lusts, hut rejrain 
thyself from thine appetites} Delight tkoti in the Lord, and Hs shall 
^givff thee thy heart's desire? 

'Ecck^JiTn xviii, 50. 'PisTm utvli. ^. 



.4 

I 



^ 



274 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

5. "For if thou wiln truly find delight, and be abundantly com- 
forted □£ M^y behold in the coniempt o£ all worldly things and in 
the avoidance ot all worthless pleysures shall be rhy blessing, and 
fulness of consolation shall be given thee. And the more thou wilh- 
drawest thyself from all solace of creatures, the more sweet and pow- 
erful consolations shall thou find. But at the first diou shalr not 
a[[;rirL to them, without some sorrow and hard striving. Long-actus- 
tomed habit will oppose, but it shall be overcome by belter habit. 
The flesh will murmur again and again, but will be restrained by 
fervour oE spirit. The old serpent will urge and embitter rhee, but 
will be put to flight by prayer; moreover, by useful labour his 
entrance will be greatly obstructed." 

CHAPTER XllI 

OF THE OBEDIENCE OF OKE IN LOWLV SUBJECTION' AFTER THE 

tXAMiPLE OF JESUS CHBLST 

"Mv Son, he who strivcth to withdraw himself from obedience, 
withdtaweth himself also from grace, and he who scekcth private 
advantagesj loseth ihosc which are common unto all. If a man sub- 
mit not freely and willingly to one set over him, it is a sign that his 
flesh is not yet perfectly subject to himself, but often resisteth and 
murmureih. Learn therefore quickly to submit thyself to him who 
1^ over thee, lE thou scckest to bring thine own flesh into subjection- 
For the outward enemy is very quickly overcome if the inner man 
have not been laid low. There is no more grievous and deadly enemy 
to the soul than thou art to thyself, if thou art not led by the Spirit. 
Thou must not altogether conceive contempt for thyself, if thou 
wilt prevail against flesh and blood. Because as yet thou inordi- 
nately Invest thyself, therefore thou shrinkest from yielding thyself 
to the will of others. 

3. *'Bur what great thing is it that ihou, who art dust and noth- 
ingness, yicldest thyself to man for God's sake, when I, the Almighty 
and the Most High» who created all things out of nothing, subjected 
MyselE to man for thy sake? I became the most humble and 
despised of men, that by My humility thou mightest overcome thy 
pride. Learn to obey, O dust! Learn to humble thyself* O earth and 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 275 

clay^ and ro bow ihyseiE bijneach the feet o£ all. Learn co crush thy 
pas&ions, and to yieid thyself in all subjection, 

3- ''Be zealous against thyself^ nor sulTer pride to live within thee, 
but so show thyself subject and of no reputation, that all may be 
able to walk over thee, and tread thee down as the clay in the streets. 
What hast thou, O foolish man, of which to complain? What, O 
vile sinner, canst thou answer those who speak against thee, seeing 
thou hast so often offended God, and many a time ha^l deserved 
hell? But Mine eye hath spared diee, because thy soul was precious 
in My sight; thaE ihou mightesl know My love, and mightest be 
thankful for My benefits; and that thou mightest give thyself alto- 
gether to true subjeciion and humility, and patiently bear the con- 
tempt whlcli thou meriiesi/* 



CHAPTER XIV 

OF MEOrTATION UPON" THE HIPDEV JUOCMENTS OF GOD, THAT WE 
MAY XOT BE LirrED UP B£C iUSE Oi^ OCR WELL-DOING 

Thou sendest forth Thy judgments against me, O Lord, and 
shakest all my bones with fear and ircmbhng, and my soul irembledi 
exceedingly. 1 stand astonished, and remember that the heausn$ 
are not dean in thy iight} If Thou chargesl ThiTje artgds ti/ith jolly, 
and didst spare them not, how shall it be unto me p Stars have fallen 
from heaven, and what shall I dare who am but dust? They whose 
works seemed to be praiseworthy, fell into the lowest depths, and 
they who did eat Angels' food, them have I seen delighted with the 
husks that ilic swine do eat. 

2. There is therefore no holiness, if Thou O Lord, withdraw 
Thine hand. No ivisdom proltteth, if Thou leave off to guide the 
helm. No strength availeth, if Thou cease to preserve. No purity is 
secure, if Thou protect it not. No self-keeping availeih, if Thy holy 
watching be not there. For when we are left alone we are swallowed 
up and perish, but when we are visited, we are raised up, and we 
live. For indeed we are unstable, but are made strong through Thee; 
J we grow cold, but are rekindled by Thee. 

*Job TV, IJ. 



I 



276 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

3. Oh, how humbly iind abjectly must i reckon of myself, how 
must I weigh it as noihing, if I seem to have nothing goodi Oh, 
how profoundly ought I to submit myself to Thy unfathomable 
judgments, O Lord, when I find myself nothing else save nothing, 
and again nothing! Oh weight unmeasurable, oh ocean which 
Citnnot be crossed over, where I find nothing oi myself save nodiing 
altogether! Where, then, is the hiding-place of glory, where the con- 
fidence begotten of virtue? All vain-glory is swallowed up in the 
depths of Thy judgments against me. 

4, What is all flesh in Thy sight? For how shall the clay boast 
against Hijn that fashioned it?^ How can he be lifted up in vain 
speech whose heart is subjected in truth to God? The whole world 
shall not lift him up whom Truth hath subdued; nor shall he be 
moved by the mouth of all who praise him, who hath placed all 
his hope in God. For they themselves who speak, behold, they are 
all nothing; for they shatl cease with the sound of their words, hut 
the truth of the Lord endtiri^th for eifcr? 

CHAPTER XV 

HOW WE MUST STAS'D A>JD SPEAK, IN EVEEYTHiNG THAT WE DESIRE 

"My Son, speak thou thus in every matter, ^Lord, if it please Thee, 
let this come to pass. Lord, if this shall be for Thine honour, let it 
be done In Thy Name. Lord, if thou see it good for me, and approve 
it as useful, then grant me to use it for Thy honour. Hut if thou 
fcnowesf that it shall be hurtful unto me, and not profitable for ihe 
health of my soul, take the desire away from me'! For not every 
desire is from the Holy Ghost, although it appear to a man right 
and good. It is difficult to judge with certainty whether a good or 
an evil spirit move thee to desire this or that, or whether thou art 
moved by thine own spirit. Many have been deceived at the last, 
who seemed at the beginning to be moved by a good spirit. 

2, "Therefore, whatsoever seemeth to thee desirable* thou mui^i^ 
always desire and seek after it with the fear of God and humility 
of heart, and most of all, must altogether resign thyself, and com- 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 277 

mit al\ unto Me and say, *Lord, thou knowest what is best; let this 
OF th;\l be, according ys Thou wiit- Give what Thou wilt, so much 
a? Thou wiU, wbpii Thou wile. Do with me as Thou knowes: bcit, 
and as best shall please Thee^ and as shall be most to Thine honour. 
Place me where Thou will;, and freely work Thy will with me m all 
things. I am in Thine hand, and turn me in my course. Behold* 1 
am Thy servant, ready for all things; for 1 desire to live not to myself 
but to Thtie. Oh, tl\at 1 might live worthily and perfectly.' '^ 

A PRAYER TO BE ES'ABLED TO DO GOd'^ WTtL PEPf ECTLV 

3. Giant me Thy grace, most merciful fesus, that it may be with 
me, and work in me, and persevere with me» even unto the end. 
Grant that I may ever desire and wish whatsoever is most pleasing 
and dear unto Thee- Let Thy will be mine, and let my will alway 
follow Thine, and entirely accord with it. May I choose and reject 
whatsoever Thou dost; yea, let it be impossible for me to choose or 
reject except according to Thy wilL 

4. Grant that 1 may die to all worldly things, and for Thy sake 
love to be despised and unknown in this world. Grant unto me, 
above all chings that I can desire, to rest in Thee, and that in Thee 
my heart may be at peace. Thou art the true peace of the heart. 
Thou alone i[s rest; apart from Thee all things are hard and un- 
quiet. In Thee alone, the supreme and eternal God, / a;ill lay me 
down in peace and tahj: jny rest} Amen. 

CHAPTER XVI 

THAT TliLiE SOLACE IS TO BE SOUGHT IN' GOD ALON'E 

Wjiatsoever i am able to desire or to think of for my solace, 1 look 
for it not here, but hereafter. For if 1 alone had all the solaces of 
this u'orld, and were able to enjoy all its delights, ii is certain that 
they could not endure long- Wherefore, O my soul, thou canst be 
fully comforted and perfectly refreshed, only in God, the Comforter 
of the poor, and ihe liffer up of the humble- Wait but a litde while, 
my soul, wait for the Divine promise, and thou shah have abundance 
J 'Psalm W. 5. 



278 TIJE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

of ail good Ehings in heaven, if ihou longest coo inordinately for 
the things which are now, thou shalt lose ihose which are eternal 
and heavenly. Let lemponil ihingi be in the use, eternal things in 
the desire. Thou tansi not be satisfied with any temporal gof>d, tor 
thou wast not created for the enjoyment of these. 

3, Although thou hadst all the good things which ever were 
created, yet couklst not rhou be happy and bles&ed; -M thy blessed- 
ness and thy felicity Heth in God who created all things; not such 
felicity as secmeth good to the foolish lover of the world, but such 
as Christ's good and faithful servants wail for, and as the spiritual 
and pure in heart sometimes lasie» whose cotii/srsalion is in heat-efi} 
All human sobce is empty and short-lived; blessed and true is that 
solace which is felt inwardly, springing from the truth. The godly 
man everywhere beareih about with him his own Comforter, Jesus, 
and SLuth unto Him: "Be with me. Lord Jesus, always and every- 
where. Lei it be my comfort to be able to give up cheerfully all 
human comfort. And if Thy consolation fail me, let Thy will and 
righteous approval be alway with me for the highest comfort. For 
Thou wilt not always be chiding, neither fievpest Thou Thine anger 
joreverr^ 

CHAPTER Xyil 

TIJAT ALL CAfiE tS -^O E£ CAST UPON GOO 

"Mv Son, suffer me to do with thee what L will; I know what is 
eKpedieni for ihee. Thou thinkest as a man, in many things thou 
judgest as human affection persuadeth thee.*' 

2. Lord* what Thou sayest is true. Greater is Thy care for mfl 
than all the care which I am able to take for myself. For loo inse- 
curely doth he stand who casteih not all his care upon Thee. Lord, 
so long as my will standeth right and firm in Thee, do with me what 
Thou will, for ^vhaisoevcr Thou shall do with me cannot be aughl 
but good. Blessed be Thou if Thou wilt leave me in darkness: 
blessed also be Thou if Thou wilt leave me in light. Blessed be Thou 
it Thou vouchsafe to comfort me^ and always blessed be Thou if 
Thou cause me to be troubled, 

^Philippiam iii- lo. ' P^alm tii. g. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 279 

3. *'My Son! tvco thus thou must stand if thou des[resr to walk 
with Me. Thou must be ready ahke for suiTering: or rejoicing. Thou 
must be poor and needy as willingly as full and rich/' 

^. Lord, 1 will willingly bear for Thee whatsoever Tbou wilt have 
ro come upon me. Without choice I will receive from Thy hand 
good and evil, sweet and bitter, joy and sadness, and will give Thee 
thanks for all things which shall happen unco me. Ktep me from all 
sin, and I will not fear death nor hell. Only cast me not away for 
ever, nor blot me out of the book of life. Then no tribulation which 
shall come upon me shall do me hurt. 

CHAPTER XVni 

THAT TE.MFOItAt MISERIES ARE TO QE HORXE FATIENTLV AFTER 

THE EXAMFi-B OF CHJllST 

'*Mt Son! 1 came down from heaven for thy salvation; I took 
upon Me thy miseries not of necessity, but drawn by love that thou 
mightest learn patience and mighcest bear temporal miseries without 
murmuring. For from the hour of My birth, uniil My death upon 
the Cross, I ceased not from bearing of sorrow; I had much lack 
of temporal things; I oftentimes heard many reproaches again&i My- 
self; 1 gently bore contradictions and hard words; I received ingrati- 
tude for benefits, blasphemies for My miracles, rebukes for My 
doctrine." 

2. Lord, because Thou wast patient in Thy life, herein most of 
all fulfilling the commandment of Thy Father^ it is well that I, 
miserable sinner, should patiently bear myself according to Thy will, 
and as long as Thou wilt have it so, should bear about with me for 
my salvation, the burden of this corruptible life. For although the 
present hfc seemeth burdensome, it is nevertheless already made very 
full of merit through Thy grace, and to those who are weak it be- 
cometh easier and brighter through Thy example and the footsteps 
of Thy saints; but it is also much more full of consolation than it 
was of old> under the old Testament, when the gate of heaven 
remained sl*ut; and even the way to heaven seemed more obscure 
when so few cared to seek after the heavenly kingdom- But not even 



} 






280 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

those who were then just and in the way of salvation were able» 
before Thy Passion and the ransom of Thy haly Deaths to enter the 
kingdom of heaven. 

3, Oh what great thanks am I bound 10 give Thee* who hast 
vouchsafed to show nic and all fairhfu^ people the good and right 
way to Thine eternal kingdom, for Thy way is our way, and by hoEy 
patience we walk to Thee who art our Crown, U Thou hadst not 
gone before and taught us. who would care to follow? Oh, how br 
would they have ^one baciiward if they had not beheld Thy glorions 
CKamplel Behold we are still lukewarm, though we have heard of 
Thy many signs and discourses; what would become of us if we 
bad not such a light to help us follow Thee? 

CHAPTER XIX 

OF BEARING INJURIES, .\ND WHO SHALL BE APPROVED 

AS TRLLV PATIENT 

"What sayest thou. My Son? Cease to complain; consider My 
suffering and that of My saints. T/iOit hmt not yet reilstcd unto 
blood} li is little which thou sufferest in comparison with those 
\vho have suffered so many things, have been so strongly tempted, 
so grievously troubled, so manywise proved and tried. Thou ought- 
esi therefore to call to mind the more grievous sufferings of others 
that thou mightcst bear thy lesser ones more easily, and it they 
seem not to thee little, see that it is not thy impatience which is the 
cause of this. But whether they be little or whether they be greai, 
study to bear them all with patience. 

2- "So far as thou seitest thyself to bear patiently, so far thou 
dost wisely and arc deserving of the more merit; thou shatt abo 
bear the more easily if thy mind and habit are carefully trained 
hereunto. And say not 'I cannot bear these things from such a man, 
nor are chings of this kind to be borne by me, for he hath done me 
grievous harm and imputeih to me what T had never thought: but 
from another I will suffer patiently, such things as I see 1 ought to 
suffer/ Foolish is such a thought as this, for it considereth not the 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 281 

■ ^ ■ 

virtue of patience, nor by whom that virtue is to be crowned^ but it 
rathpr weighcth persons and offences agjinsc self. 

3. "He is nor truly patient who will oaly suffer as far as seemeth 
righc to himsel£ and from whom he pleaseih. liui the truly paEienC 
man considcreth not by what man he is tried, whether by one above 
him, or by an equal or inferior, whether by a good and holy man, 
or a perverse and unworthy; but indifferently from every creature, 
whatsoever or how often soever adversity happeneth to liim. he 
gratefully acceptech all from the hand of God and ct>unieth it great 
gain: for with God nothing which is borne for His sake, however 
fUiall, shall lose its reward- 

4. "Be thou therefore ready for the fight if thou wilt have the 
victory. Without striving thou canst not win the crown of patience; 
if thou wilt not suiJer thou refusest to be crowned. I5ut if thou 
desireit to be crowned, strive manfully, endure paiiendy. Without 
labour ihou drawest not near to rest^ nor without fighting comest 
thou to victory." 

5. Make possible to me, O Lord, by grace what seemeth impossible 
to me by nature- Thou knowest how little ! am able to bear, and 
how cfuickly i am cast down when a like adversity nseth up against 
me. Whatsoever trial of tribulation may come to me, may it become 
unto me pleasing and acceptablCf for to stjEfer and be vexed for Thy 
sake is exceeding healthful to the soul, 

CHAPTER XX 
01' cosrEsiiON" or oi;e infirmitv as'd of thh miseries of this Hfz 

I WILL acknowledge my sin unto Thcc'^ I will confess to Thee, 
Lord, my inhrmity. It is often a small thing which casteth me down 
and makeih me sad. I resolve that 1 witl act bravely, but when a 
little temptation cometh, immediately I am in a great strait. Won- 
derfully small somctmies is the matter whence a grievous temptation 
comtth) and whilst I imagine myself safe for a little space; when 1 
am not considering, 1 find myself often almost overconne by a litile 
puff of wind. 

2. Behold, therefore, O Lord, my humility and my frailty, which 

'Psalm xKiii, 5, 



282 THE IMITATION Of CHRIST 

is ahogetheT l^nown to Thee. Be meT-ciful unto me, and draw tne 
out of the mire that I sin^ not} test J ever remain cast down. This is 
whai frequenily throweih me backward and confounde^h me before 
Then^j [hat I am so liable 10 fall, so weak 10 resisE my passinns. And 
ihough iheir assault is not ahogether according to my will, it is 
violent and grievous, and it altogether wcarieth me to Hve thus daily 
in conflict. Herein is my infirmii/ made known Eo me, that hateful 
fancies always rush in far more easily than they departs 

3, Oh that Thou, most mighty God of Israel, Lover of all faithfEil 
souls, wouldsr look upon the labour and sorrow of Thy servant, and 
give him help in all things whereunto he striveih. Strengthen me 
with heavenly fortitude, lest the old man, this miserable flesh, tiot 
being yet fully subdued to the spirit, prevail to rule over me; against 
which 1 ought to strive so long as I remain in this most miserable life. 
Oh what a life is this, where tribulations and miseries cease not, 
where all things are full of snares and o£ enemies, for when one 
tribulation or temptation goeth, another cometh^ ye^^ while the 
former conflict is yet raging others come more in number and 
unexpected. 

4, And how can the life of man be loved, seeing chat it hath so 
many bitter things, that it is subjected to so many calamities and 
miseries. How can it be even called life, when it produces so many 
deaths and plagues? The world is otten reproached because it is 
deceitful and vain, yet notwithstanding it is not easily given up, 
because the lusrs of the flesh have too much rule over it. Some draw 
us to love, some to hate. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, 
and the pride of life, these draw to love of the world; but the punish- 
ments and miseries which righteously follow these things* bring forth 
hatred of the world and weariness. 

5, Eut, alas[ an evil desire conquereth a mind given to the world, 
and thinketh it happiness to be under the nettles^ because it savour- 
e[h not nor perceiveLh the sweetness of God nor the inward grace- 
fulness of virtue. But they who perfectly despise the world and 
strive to live unto God in holy discipline, these are not ignorant of 
the divine sweetness promised to all who truly deny themselves and 
see clearly how grievously the world erreth, and in how many ways 
it is deceived, 

^P^afin lij;- t6- 'Jab xxa. 7, 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 283 

CHAPTER XXI 

THAT WE MUST REST IN COD ABOVE ALL GOODS AND GIFTS 

Above all things :Lnd in ail things thou shylc rest alw^y in the 
Lord, O my soul, for he himself ia the eternal rest oE the saints. 
Grant me^ most sweet and loving Jesus* to rest in Thee above every 
crcarure, above all health and beaury. above all glory and hoiiour* 
shovG all power and dignity* above all knowledge and skilEulness, 
above all riches and arcs, above all joy and e:<ukaiion, above all tame 
and praise, above all sweetness and consolation, above all hope and 
promise, above all merit and desire, above all gifts and rewards 
which ThoLi can&t give and pour forth* iibove all joy and jubilation 
which the mind is abfe to receive and feel; in a word, above Angels 
and Archangels and all the army of heaven, above all things visi- 
ble and invisible, and above everything which Thou, O my God, 
arc not. 

2- For Thou, O Lord, my God, arr best above ail things; Thou 
only art the Most High^ Thou only the Almighty, Thou only the 
All-suflicient, and die Fulness of all things; Thou only the All- 
delightsome and the All-comforting; Thou alone the altogether 
lovely and altogether loving; Thou alone the Most Exalted and 
Most Glorious above all things; in Whom all things are, and wert^ 
and ever shall be, altogether and all-perfect. And thus it falleth 
short and is insufficient whatsoever Thou givest to me without Thy- 
self or whatsoever Thou revealest or dost promise concerning Thy- 
self, whilst Thou art not seen or fully possessed: since verily my 
heart cannot truly rest nor be entirely content, except it rest in Thee, 
and go beyond all gifts and every creature, 

3. O my most beloved Spouse, Jesus Christ, most holy lover of 
my soul, Ruier of this whole Creation, who shall give me the wings 
of true liberty, that I may flee to Tliee and find rest? Oh when shall 
it be given me to be open to receive Thee to the full, and to see how 
sweet Thou art, O l>ord my God? When shall I collect myself 
altogether in Thee, that because of Thy love 1 may not feel myself 
at all, but may know Thee only above every sense and measure* in 
measure not known to others. But now 1 ofttimes groan, and bear 
my sad estate with sorrow; because many evils befall me in this vale 



i 



284 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

of miseries which conninuaUy disturb and fill me with sorrow, and 
encloud mc, cominually hinder and dll me wUh care, allure and 
cntiingle mc, that 1 cannot have free access To Thee, nor enjoy that 
sweet intercoarse which is always near at hand to ihe blessed spirits. 
Let niy deep sighing come before Thee, and my manifold desolation 
on ihe eifrih. 

4. O Jesus, Light of Eternal Glory, solace of the wandering soul, 
before Thee my moutb is without speech, and my silence speakeih to 
Thee, How long will my Lord delay to come unto mej* Let Him 
come unto me, His poor and humble one, and make me glad. Let 
Him put forch His hand, and deliver His holy one from every snare. 
Come, Oh come; for without Thee shall be no joyftil day or hour, 
for Thou art my joy, and without Thee is my rable empty, T am 
miserable, and in a manner imprisoned and loaded with fetters, until 
Thou refresh me by ihe light of Thy presence, and give me liberty, 
and show Thy loving countenance. 

5. Let others seek some other thing instead of Thee, whatsoever it 
shall please them; but for my part noihmg else plcaseth or shall 
please, save Thou^ my God, my hope, my eternal salvation. I will 
not hold my peace, nor cease to implore, until Thy grace return, and 
until Thou speak to me within, 

6. "Behold, here I ami Behold, I come to thee^ for thou didst caD 
Me. Thy lears and the longing of thy soul, thy humbleness and con- 
trition of heart have inclined Mc, and brought Me to rhee." 

7. And I said Lord, I have called upon Thee, and I have longed 
to enjoy Thee, being ready to reject everything for Thy sake. For 
Thou didst first move me to seek Thee, Therefore, blessed be Thou, 
O Lord, who has wrought this good work iipon Thy servant, ac- 
cording to the multitude of Thy mercy. What then haih Thy servant 
to say in Thy presence, save to humhle himself greatly before Thee, 
being alway mindful of his own iniquity and vilcness. For there 
is none like unto Thee in all marvels of heaven and earth. Excellent 
are Thy works, true are Thy judgments, and hy Thy Providence 
are all things governed. Therefore praise and glory be unto Thee, 
O Wisdom of the Father, let my mouih and my soul and all created 
things praise and bless Thee together. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 285 

CHAPTER XXll 

OF THE RECOLLECTION OF COD's MANIFOLD BENEFITS 

Open, O Lord, my heart in Thy Liw, ,ind fe.nch me ro walk in the 
way of Thy comm^mdments. Gram me lo understand Thy will and 
to be mindful of Tliy benefirs, boLh general and special, wiih great 
reverence and diligent meditation, thai; ihus 1 may be able worthily 
to give Thee ihynks- Yei 1 know and confess that \ cannot render 
Thee due praises for the least of Thy mercies. 1 am less than the least 
of all ihe good ihingi which Thou gavesi me; and when 1 consider 
Thy majesty^ my spirit faileth because o£ ihc greatness thereof. 

2. All things which we have in the soul and in the body, and 
whatsoever things we possess, whether outwardly or inwardly^ natu- 
rally or supernatural ly, are Thy good gifts, and prove Thee, from 
whom we have received them alt, to be good, gentle, and kind^ 
Although one receiveth many things^ and another fewer, yet all are 
Thine, and without Thee not even the least diing can be possessed. 
He who hath received greater cannot boast that it is of his own merit, 
nor lift himself up above others, nor contemn those beneath him; 
for he is the greater and the belter who ascribeth least to himself, 
and in giving thanks is the humbler and more devout- and he who 
holdeth himself to be viler than all, and judgeth himself to be the 
more ni] worthy, is the apier for receiving greater thingSp 

3. But he who hath received fewer gitts, ought not to be cast down, 
nor to take it amiss, nor to envy him who is richer; but rather ought 
he to look unto Thee» and to greatly extol Thy goodness, for Thou 
pourest forth Thy gifts so richJy, so freely and largely, without re- 
spect of persons. All things come of Thee; therefore in all things 
shah thou be praised. Thou knowest what is best to be given to each; 
and why this man hath less, and that more^ is not for us but for 
ITiee lo understand^ for unto Thee each man's deservings are iully 
known. 

4. Wherefore, O Lord God, 1 reckon it even a great benefit, not 
to have many things, whence praise and glory may appear outwardly, 
and after the thought of men. For so it is that he who considereth his 
own poverty anti vileness, ouyht not only to draw therefrom no grief 



286 THE IMITATION OF CiCRlST 

or sorrow^ or sadness of spiiir, but rather comfort and cheerfulness; 
because Thou, Lord, hast chosen the poor and humble, and ihos^ 
who are poor in this world, to be Thy friends and acquainrance. 
So give all Thine apostles witness whom Thou hast made princes 
in all Lmds, Yet they h^d their conversation in this world blame- 
less, so humble and meek, without any malice or deceit, ihat thsy 
even y^jokeii to stiver rebti\<;s jor Thy Name's iaf^e.^ and what 
things the world hateih, they embraced with great joy- 

5- Therefore ought nothing so much to rejnice him who loveth 
Thee and knoweth Thy benefits^ as Thy will in him, and the good 
pleasure o£ Thine eternal Providence, wherewith he ought to be so 
contented and comforted, that he would as willingly be the least as 
any other would be the greatest, as peaceable and contented in the 
lowest as in the highest place, and as willingly held of small and 
low account and of no name or reputation as to be more honour- 
able and greater m the world than others. For Thy will and the 
love of Thine honour ought to go before all things, and to please and 
comfort him more, than all benefits that are given or may be given 
to himself. 

CHAPTER XXm 

OF VOVR THTNCS WHICH BfilWG CHEAT PEACE 

"My Son, now will I teach thee the way of peace and of true 
liberty." 

2. Do, O my Lord, as Thou sayest, for this is pleasing unto me 
to hear. 

3- "Strive, My Son, to do another's will rather than thine own. 
Choose always to have less rather than more. Seek always after the 
lowest place, and lo be subject to all. Wish always and pray that 
the will of God be fLiltilled in thee. Behold, such a man as this enter- 
elh into the inheritance of peace and quietness." 

4. O my Lord, this Thy short discourse hath in itself much of per- 
fectness- It is short in words but full of meaning, and abundant in 
fruJL For if it were possible that 1 should fully keep it, disturbance 
would not so easily arise within me. For as often as 1 feel myself 

^ Acti V. 41, 



THE IMITATION' OF CHRIST 287 

disquieted and weighed down, I iind myself 10 have gone back from 
thii reaching. But Thou, Who art Almighty, and always lovest prog- 
ress in the soul, vouchsafe more giace, ihat J may be enabled to 
fulfil Thy exhortatron, and work out my saivaiion, 

A 1*EAVER ACAlNSTtViL THOUGHTS 

5- hotd my God, he not Thou far jiorn me, my God, haste Thee 
to help me,' for many thoughts and great fears have risen up against 
me, affliccmg my soul. How shall I pass through ihem unhurt? how 
shall 1 break through them? 

6. "I." saiih He, "wili go bejore thee, and nia\e the crooked places 
straight."^ I will open ihe prison doors, and reveal [o thee the secret 
places. 

7. Do, Lord, as Thou sayest; and let all evil thoughts fly away 
before Thy face. This is my hope and my only comfort, to fly unto 
Thee in al) tribulaiion, to hope in Theei to call upon Thee from my 
heart and patiently wait for Thy loving kindness. 

A PJiAViiH to* EfJUOKTtNMHST OF THE MIND 

8. Enlighten me, Blessed Jesus, with the brightness of Thy inner 
Hghi, and cast forth all darkness from the habitation of my heart. 
Restrain my many wandering thoughts, and carry away the tempta- 
tions which strive to do me hurl. Fight Thou mighirly for me, and 
drive forth the evil beasts, so call I alluring lusts, that peace may be 
t4>ithin Thy icalU and plcnteousness of praise within Thy palaces? 
even in my pure conscience. Command Thou the winds and the 
scorms, say unto the sea, "Be still," say unto the stormy wind, *'Hotd 
thy peace,^' so shall there be a great calm. 

9. Oh send forth Thy light ami Thy truth* that they may shine 
upon the earth; for 1 am but earth without form and void Until 
Thou give me light. Pour forth Thy grace from above; water my 
heart with the dew of heaven; give the wafers of devotion to water 
the face of the earth* and cause it to bring forth good and perfect 
fruit. Lift up my mind which is oppressed with the wcighr of sins, 
and raise my whole desire to heavenly things; that having tasted the 

'Pijlm [xKJ. 13, ^haiah xlv. a. ^P^lm cxxii. 7, "Psalm tliii. 3. 



288 THE IMITATroX OF CHRfST 

s^veemes5 of the happiness which is from isbove, ii may take no 
plpasurp in thinking of things of e:irrh. 

10. Draw me and deliver me from every unstable comforf of crea- 
lures, for no created thing is able to satisfy my desire and to give 
me comfort. Join me lo Thyself by ihe inseparable bond of tove, 
for Thou alone art sufhcicni to him that loveth Theu, and xvithout 
Thee ail things are vain Eoys, 

CHAPTER XXIV 

OF AVOltUNG OF CVEIOLS IXQUIEY INTO THE UFE OF ANOTHER 

"Mv Son, be not curious, nor trouble thyself with vain cares, 
What is that to thee? FoUou^ thoii Me} For what is it to ihee 
whetiier a man be this or thai, or say or do thus or thus? Thou hast 
no need to answer for others, hut ibou mus: give an answer for 
thyself, Wiiy therefore dost ihou entangle ihyseK? Behold^ i know 
all men» and I behold all things which are done under the sun; and 
I know how it sEandech with each one, what he ihinketh, wh;Lf he 
willeth^ and to whac end his thoughts reach. All things therefore 
are lo be committed to Me; Witich thou thyself in godly j>e,)ce, and 
leave him who is unc[uict to be unquiet as he will. Whatsoever he 
shall do or say» shall come unto him, for he cannoi deceive Me. 

2. "Trouble not thyself about the shadow o£ a great name» nor 
about ihe friendship of many, nor about the love of men towards 
thee. For these things beget distraction and great sorrows of heart. 
My word should speak freely unto ihee, and I would reveal secrets, 
if only thou didst diligently look for My appearing, and didst open 
tmto Me the gates of thy heart. Be soher and watch ttnto prayer^ 
and humble thyself in all things." 

CHAPTER XXV 

WHEREIN FIRM PEACE OF HEART AN"D TKUE PaOFiT CONSIST 

"My Son, 1 have said. Peace I leave with yon. My peace I give 
unto yoii. not iis the tt'orid gheth ghe I rinro yoit} All men desire 
peacCj but all do not care for the things which belong unto true 

I Jalin Ksi. 12, ' I F^r-ar iv- j, ^ Jyhji xiv- 17, 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 289 

peace. My peace is with ihc humble and lowly in heart. Thy peace 
shall be in much padence. If thou heardest Me, and didst follow 
My voice, :hou shouldesc enjoy much peace.'* 

2. What then shall I do, Lord? 

3. "Ill everything Jake heed 10 thyself what thou doestj and whac 
thou sayest; and direct all thy purpose to thi^, that thou please Me 
alone, and desire or seek nothing apart from Me- But, moreover, 
judge nothing mshly concerning [he words or deeds of others, nor 
meddle svith matters which are not committed to thee; and it may 
be that thou shalt be disturbed Jitlle or rarely. Yet never to feel any 
disquiet, nor to suffer any pain of heart or body, this belongeih not 
to the present life, but is the state of eternal rest. Therefore count 
not thyself to have found irtie peace, if thou hast felt no grief; nor 
that then all is well if thou hast no adversary; nor that this is perfect 
i£ all things fall out according to thy desire. Nor ihen reckon thy- 
self to be anything great, or think that thou art specially beloved, 
if thou art in a state of great fervour and sweetness of spirit; for 
not by these things is the true lover of virtue known, nor in them 
doth the profit and perfection of man consist," 

4. Tn what then. Lord? 

5. "In oJfering thyself with all thy heart to the Divine Will, in not 
seeking the things which are ihine own, whether great or small, 
whether tempor^il or eternal; so that thou remain with the same 
steady countenance in giving of thanks between prosperity and ad- 
versity, weighing all things in an equal balance. If thou be so 
brave and iong-sutfering in hope that when inward comfort is taken 
from ihee, thou even prepare thy heart for the more endurance, and 
justify not thyself, as though thou oughiest not to su(Ter these heavy 
things, but dost justify Me in all things that i appoint, and dost bless 
My Holy Name, then dost thou walk in the true and right way of 
peace, and shalt have a sure hope that thou shalt again behold My 
face with joy. For if thou come to an utter contempt of thyself, 
know that then thou shale enjoy abundance of peace, as much as is 
possible where thou art but a wayfaring man.'* 



290 THE IMITATION OF CliRIST 

CHAPTER XXVI 

0£ THE EXALTATION OF \ VPEE SI'IPIT, WHICH HUMBLE PRAYER MORE 
DEseavEni than doth FEEyUENX JtEADTNC 

"Loaa. this is ihe work oi a perfect myn, never (o slacken his mind 
from attention to heavenly things, and nmong many cares [o pass 
along 3S it were wilhout cjrc, not after the manner of one indiffer- 
ent, but railier with the privilege of a free mind, cleaving to no 
creature with inordinate Jiffection, 

2. 1 beseech Thee, my most mcrtiful Lord God, preserve me from 
the carps of this life, lest I become too much entangled; from many 
necesalries of the body, lest I be taken captive by pleasure; from all 
obstacles of the spirit, lest I be broken and cast down with cares, I 
say not from those things which the vanity of the world goeth abouc 
after with all eagerness, but from those miseries which by the uni- 
verKil curse of mortahty wefgh down and hold back the soul of thy 
servant in punishment, dial it cannot enter into liberty of spirit, so 
often as it would- 

3. O my God, sweetness unspeakablCj turn into bitEerness all my 
fleshly consolation, which draweth me away from the love of eternal 
things, and wickedly alltircth toward itself by selling before me some 
present delight, l^t not, Q my God, let not flesh and blood prevail 
over me, let not the world and its short glory deceive me, let not the 
devil and his craftiness supplant me. Give me courage to resist, 
patience to endure, constancy to persevere. Grant, in place of all con- 
solations of the world, the most sweet unction of Thy Spirit, and in 
place of carnal love, pour into me the love of Thy Name. 

4. Behold, food and drink and clothing, and all the other needs 
appertaining lo the support of the body, are burdensome to the 
devout spirit. Grant that I may use such things with moderation, 
and that I be not entangled with inordinate affection for them- To 
cast away ail these things is not lawful, because nature must be sus- 
tained, but 10 require superfluities and things which merely minister 
delight, the holy law forbiddeih; for otherwise the l^esh would wax 
insolpni against the spirit. In all these things, I beseech Thee, let 
Thy hand guide and teach me, thai I in no way e.\ceed- 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 2^1 

CHAPTER XXVll 

THAT PERSONAL LO^t CfitATLl HlMJERETil FROM TiLE HIGHEST GOOD 

"Mv Son, [hou must give ;tll for all, and be nothing of thine own. 
Know rhotJ thac ihe love o£ ihyself is more hurtful to rhee ihaa 
anything in the world, Accordhig to the love and indinatton which 
ihou hast, everything more or less dcavcih to ihcc. If thy love be 
pure, sincere^ well-iegolated, thou shall not be in captivity co any- 
thing. Do not covet wha^ thou mayesc not have; do not have what 
is able to hinder tfiee, and to rob thee of inward liberty. It is won- 
derful that th{)U committcsc not thyself to Me from the very bottom 
of thy hi^arl, with all things which thou c^nst desire or have. 

2. "Why art thou consumed with vain iortow? Why art ihoQ 
wearied with superfluous cares-' Stand thou by My good pleasure, 
and thou shalt suffer no lois. If thou ieekest after this or thatj and 
mlt be here or there, according to thine own advantage or the fuU 
filhng of thine own pleasure, thou shall never be in quiet, nor free 
from care* because in everything somewhat will be found lacking, 
and evefvwhere there will be somebody ivho opposeih chee. 

3, "Therefore it is not gaining or multiplying of this thing or 
that which advantagcth ihce, but rather the despising it and cutting 
it by the root out of thy heart; which thou must not only under- 
stand of money and riches, bu: of the desire after honour and vain 
praise, things which ail pass away with the world. The place avail- 
eih little if the spirit of devotion is wanting; nor shall thar peace 
stand long which is sought from abroatl, if the state of thy heart is 
without the true foundation, that h. if it abide not in Me. Thou 
mayest change, hut thou canst not better thyself; for when occasion 
ariseth and is accepted thou shah find what thou didst fly from, 
yea more/^ 

\ PBAVER POR CLE.\N"SIN"G OF THE HEAKT A^JIJ ^1>R UE.WEN'LV WISDOM 

.. 4. Strengthen me, O God» by the grace of Thy Holy Spirit, Give 

n me virtue to be strengthened with might in the inner man, and to 

free my heart from all fruitless care and trouble, and that I be not 

fl drawn away by various desires after any things whatsoever, whether 



il 



292 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

of little Vitlue or great, but that I may look, upon all as passing 
away, and myself as passing away with them; because there is no 
profit under the sun. und alt is vanity and vexation of spirit} Oh 
how wise is he that considercih ihusl 

5. Give me, O Lord, heavenly wisdom, that 1 may learn to seek 
Thee above all things and to (ind Thee; to relish Thee above all 
things and to love Thee; and to understand all other things, even 
as they are, according to the order of Thy wisdom. Crant me pru- 
dendy to avoid the tiattcrer, and patiently to bear with him that 
oppostth me- for this is great wisdom, not to be carried by every 
wind of words, nor to give ear to the wicked flattering Siren; for 
thus do we go safely on in the way we have begun, 

CHAPTER XXVIU 

AGATS5T TtlE TONCLES OF DETRACTODS 

*'My Son, take it not sidly to heart, if any think ill of th^e, ani^ 
say of thee what thou art unwilling to hear. Thou oughtest to 
think worse of thyself, and to believe no man weaker than thyself. 
If thou waikest inwardly, thou wilt not weigh flying words ^bove 
their value. It is no small prudence to keep silence in an evd time 
and to turn in^vardly unto Me, and not to be troubled by human 
judgment. 

2. "Lei not thy peace depend upon the word of men; for whether 
they judge well or ill of thee, thou arc not therefore any other man 
dian thyself. Where is true peace or true glory? Ts it noc in Me? 
And he who seeketh not lo please men, nor feareth to displease, 
shall enjoy abundant peace. From inordinate love and vain fear 
ariseih all disquietude of hearty and all distraction of the senses." 

CHAPTER XXIX 

KOW WHEN TRIBULATION COilETH WE MUST CALL UPON AND BLESS GOD 

Blesshd be thy name» O Lord, for evermore, who hast willed this 
temptation and trouble to come upon me. I cannot escape it, but 
have need to flee unto Thee, diat Thou mayent succour me and lum 

' Ecclcuasws ii. 11- 



THE IMITATION OF CliTlIST 293 

it unto me for good. Lord, now am I in tribubiion, and it is aot 
well within my hearty but 1 am sore vexed by the surTcring which 
lieth upon me. And now» O dear Fiiiher, what shall 1 say? 1 am 
taken among the snitres. Saue me from this hoar, but for this cause 
came I unio this hour} that Thou mightesc be glotified when I am 
deeply humbled and am delivered through Thee. Let it be Thy 
piemure to deliver mef for what can I do who am poor, and without 
Thee whither shall 1 go ? Give patience this tinie also. Help me, O 
Lord my God, and 1 will not fear how much soever I be weighed 
down. 

2. And now amid these things what shall I say? Lord, Thy will 
be done. 1 have well deserved to be troubled and weighed down. 
TheceEorG I ought to bear» would that It be with patience, until the 
tempest be overpast and comfort return. Yet is Thine omnipotent 
arm able also to take this lempiation away from mo, and to lessen 
its power that I fall not utterly under it, even as many a time past 
thou has helped me, O God, my merciful God. And as much as this 
deliverance is difficult to me, so much is it easy to Thee, O right 
hand of the most Highest. 

CHAPTER XXX 

OF SEEKING DIVINE tlELP, AND THE CONFIDENCE Of OBTACNiNG GJUCE 

'^My Son, I the Lord am a stronghold in the day of trouble.' Come 
unto Me, when it is not well with ihee. 

"This it is which chiefly hindereth heavenly consolation, that thou 
too slowly betakest thyself unto prayer. For before thou earnestly 
seekesr unto Me, thou dost first seek after many means of comfort, 
and refresheth thyself in outward things: so it cometh to pass that 
all things profit thee but little until thou learn that it is 1 who 
dehver rhose who irast in Me; neither beside Me is there any strong 
help, nor profitable counsel, nor enduring remedy. But now, recov- 
ering courage after the tempest, grow chou strong in the light of 
My mercies, for I am nigh, saith the Lord, that I may restore all 
things not only as they were at the first, but also abundantly and 
one upon another. 

'JoJin xii. JT, ^Pialm xl. i&r ^Nahum i, 7. 



294 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

1. 'Tor is anything loo hard for Me, or shall I be like unto one who 
sairh and doeih not? Where is thy faith? Stand fast and with per- 
severance. Be long-suffering and strong, Consoiaiion will come 
unto thee in its due season. Wait for Me; yea, wait; I will come 
and heal thee. It is temptation which vcscth thee^ and a vain fear 
which tcrrifieih thee. What doth care about future events bring 
thee, save sorrow upon sorrow? Sufficient for ihe day i$ the £vil 
i:hcrcof.* Il is vain and useless lo be disturbed or lifted up about 
future things which perhaps will never come, 

3. "Bur it is the nature of man to be deceived by fancies of this 
sort, and it is a sign o£ a mind which is srill weak to be so easily 
drawn away at the suggestion of the enemy. For he careth not 
whether he deceive and beguile by true means or false; whether he 
throw thee down by the love of the present or fear of the future. 
Therefore let not thy heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 
Believe in Me, and pur rhy trust in My mercy.^ When thou ihink- 
est thyself far removed from Mc, I am often the nearer. When thou 
leckonesC that almost all is losf, ihen often is greater opportunity of 
gain at hand. All is not lost when something goeth contrary to thy 
wishes. Thou oughtest not to judge according to present feeling, 
nor so to take or give way to any grief which befallcth thee, as if 
all hope of escape were taken away. 

4. "Think not thyself totally abandoned* although for the time I 
have sent to thee some tribulation, or have even withdrawn some 
cherished consolation; for this is the way to the Kingdom of Heaven. 
And without doubt it is better for thee and for all My other servants, 
that ye should be proved by adversities, than that ye should have all 
things as ye would. I know thy hidden thoughts: and that it is 
very needful for thy souTs health that sometimes thou be left with- 
out relish, lest perchance thou be lifted up by prosperity, and de- 
sirous Eo please thyself in that which thou art not. What I have 
given 1 am able to take away, and to restore again at My good 
pleasure. 

5. "When I shall have given, it Is Mine; when I shall have taken 
away, I have not taken what is thine; for every good gift and every 
perfect gjfi^ is from me. If 1 shall have sent upon ihee grief ot 

'Matlhew vi. 34. ^ John :^iv. 17; P^alm siii. 5. * James I. 17. 



THE IMITATION OF CtlKlST 295 

any vexation, be not angry, nor let thy heart be sad; T am able 
quickly 10 lift thee up and to change every burden inio joy. But I 
am just and greatly to be praised, when 1 do thu? unto thee. 

6. "If thou rightly consider^ and fcoolt upon it with truth, thou 
oughtest never to be so sadly c;kc down because of adversity, but 
rather shoulds: rejoice and give thanks; yea, verily to count k the 
highest joy that I afflict thee with sorrows and spare thee not- As 
My Father hath loued Me, so loae I youf thus have I spoken unto 
My beloved disciples; whom \ sent forth not unto worldly joys, but 
to great strivings; not unto honours, bu: unto contempt; not unto 
ease, but to labours; not unto rest, but to bring forth much fruit with 
patience. My son, remember these words.'* 

CHAPTER XXXI 

OF THE NEfiLHCT OF EVERY CEEATURE, THAT THE CREATOR MAY BE FOUTJD 

O LoED, I Still need more grace, if I would arrive where neither 
man nor any other creature may hinder me. For so long as any- 
thing keepeth me back, J cannot freely fly unto Thee. He desired 
eagerly thus to fly, who cried, saying. Ok that 1 had wings ll\e a 
dove, for then tcoidd I ffce away and he at rest. What is more 
peaceful than the single eye? And what more free than he that de* 
sircth nothing upon earth? Therefore must a man rise above every 
creature, and perfectly forsake himself, and with abstracted mind 
to stand and behold that Thou, the Creator of all things, hasr among 
Thy creatures nothing like unto Thyself. And except a man be 
freed from all creatures, he will not he able to reach freely after 
Divine things. Therefore few are found who give themselves to 
contemplation, because few know how xa separate themselves 
entirely from perishing and created things. 

2. For this mucli grace is necessary, which may lift iip tlie soul 
and raise it above itself. And except a man be lifted up in the spirit, 
and freed from all creatures, and altogedier united to God, whatso- 
ever he knowcth, whatsoever even he hath, it maitereth but little. 
He who esteemeth anything great save the one only incompre- 
hensibfe, eternal^ ijood, shall long time be little and lie low. For 



29^ THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

whatsoever is not God is nothings and ought to be counted for noth- 
ing. Great is the difference beLween a godly man, illnminaied with 
wisdom^ and a scholar learned in knowledge and given to books. 
Far nobler is that doctrine which flovvelh down from the divine ful- 
ness above, than that which is acquired bboriously by human study. 

3. Many are found who desire comemplaiionT but they do not 
strive to practice those things which are required thereunto. Ic is 
ulso a great impediment, that much is made of symbols and external 
signs, and too tilde of thorough mortification^ I know not how it 
is» and by what spirit we are led» and what we who would be deemed 
spiritual are aiming at, that we give so great labour and so eager 
solicitude for Transitory and worthless things, and scarcely ever 
gather our senses together to think at all of our inward condition. 

4. Ah, me! Forthwith after a little recollection we rush oat of 
doofs, and do not subject our actions to a strict examination. Where 
our affections are set we take no heed, and we weep not that all 
things belonging to us are so defiled. For because aii fhsh had cor- 
rupted ilsclj upon the earth, the great deluge came. Since therefore 
our inmost affections are very corrupt, it followeth of necessity that 
our actions also are corrupt, being the index of a deficient inward 
strength. Out of a pure heart proceedeth the fruit of good living. 

5. We demand, how much a man hath done; but from how much 
virtue he acted, is not so narrowly considered. We ask if he be 
strongs rich, handsome, clever, whether he is a good writer, good 
singer, good workman; but how poor he may be in spirit, how 
patient and gende, how devout and meditative, on these things 
many are silent. Nature looketh upon the outward appearance of a 
man, grace turneth its thought to the heart. The former frequently 
JLidgeth amiss; the latter trusteih in God, that it may not be deceived. 

CHAPTER XXXll 

OF SELF-DENTAL AND THE CASTING AWAY ALL SELFISHNESS 

"My Son, thou canst not possess perfect liberty unless thou alto- 
gether deny thyself. All they are enslaved who are possessors of 
riches, they who love themselves, the selfish, the curious, the rest- 
less; those who ever seek after soft things, and not after the things 



* J 
- * 



THE IMITATION OF CKRlST 297 

of Jesus Chriit; those who continually pl.in and devise ibat which 
\\'\[] not stand. For whatsoever cometh not of God shall perish. 
Hold fast the short and compEete saying* ^Renounce all things, and 
thou shall find iril things; give up ihy lust, and thou shalt find rest/ 
Dwell upon this in thy mind, and when thou art full o£ it, chou shalt 
understand all things." 

2. O Lord, this is not the work o£ a day, nor children's play; 
verily in this short saying is enclosed all the perfection of the 
religious. 

3. "My son, thou oughtcst not to be turned aside, nor imme- 
diately cast down, because thou hast heard the way of the perfect. 
Rather oughtcst thou to be provoked to higher aims, and at the 
least to long after the desire thereof. Oh that it were so with thee, 
and that thou hadst tome to this, that thou were not a lover of thine 
own self, but wer( ready always to My nod, and to his whom I have 
placed over thee as thy father. Then shouldest thou please Me 
exceedingly, and all thy life should go on in joy and peace. Thou 
hast s[iU many things to renounce, which if thou resign not utterly 
to Mcj thou shair not gain what thou seekest. 7 counsel thee to buy 
of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou fTinycst be rich^ ihjt is heav- 
enly wisdom, ivhich despiseth all base things. Put away from thee 
earthly wisdom^ and all pleasure, whether common to men, ui thine 

OWD. 

4. "1 tell diee that thou must buy vile things with those which 
are costly and great in the esteem of men. For wonderfully vile and 
small, and almost given up to forgei fulness, doth true heavenly 
wisdom appear, which thinketh not high things of Jlself, nor seeketh 
to be magnified upon the earth; many honotir it with their lips, 
but Jn heart are far from it; it is indeed the precious pearl, which is 
hidden from many." 

CHAPTER XXXIII 

OF IN'SrABJLlTV OF THE HEART, ASD OF DlftECTlWG THE AIM TOW ASUS COD 

*'My Son, trust not thy feeling, for that which is now will be 
quickly changed into somewhat else. As long as thou livest thou art 

' Rpvclarinn iii. lG. 



298 THE IMITATfON OF CHRIST 

subject 10 change, howsoever unwilling; so ihat ihou art found now 
joyful, now sad; now at peace, now disquieted; now devout, now 
indevout; now studious, now careless; now sad, now cheerful. But 
the wise man, and he who is truly learned in spirit^ siandcth above 
these c;h:ingeabie things, attentive not to what he miiy feel in him- 
self, or from what quarter the wind may blow, but that the whole 
intent of his mind may carry him on to the due and much-desired 
end. For thus will he be able to remain one and the same and un- 
shaken, [he single eye of his desire being steadfastly fised, through 
the manifold changes of the world, upon Me. 

2. '^But according as the eye of intention ho the more pure, even 
so will a man make hi;^ way steadfastly through the manifold storms, 
Buc in many the eye of pure intention waxeth dim; for it quickly 
lesteth itself upon anything pleasant which occnrreth, and rarely 
is any man found altogether Eree from the blemish of self-seeking. 
So the Jews of old e^ime to Bethany, to the house of Martha and 
Mary, that they might see not Jesus, but Lazarus, whom he had 
raised from the dead.' Therefore must [he eye of the intention be 
cleansed, that it may be single and right, and above all tilings which 
come in Its way, may be directed unto Me/' 

CHAPTER XXXIV 

r 

THAT TO HIM WEIO LOVETH COD IS SWF-ET ABOVE ALL THINGS 

AND IX ALL THIN'CS 

EeholDh CJod is mine, and all things are mine! What will I more, 
and what more happy thing can 1 desire? O delightsome and sweet 
world! that is, to him that loveth the Word, not the world, neither 
the thtJigs that are in the itorU^ My God, my all! To him that 
understandeih, that word sufficeth, and to repeat it often is pleasing 
to him that loveth it. When Thou art present all things arc pleas- 
ant; when Thou art absent, all things are wearisome. Thou makest 
the heart to be at rest, givest it deep peace and festal joy. Thou 
makest it to think rightly in every matter, and in every mat[er to 
give Thee praisei neither can anything please long without Thee but 
if it would be pleasant and of sweet savour, Thy grace must be 
there, and it is Thy wisdom which must give unto it a sweet savour, 

' Juhn »iir 9, ^1 John ii. 15. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 299 

2. To him who t;isieih Thee^ what can be distasteful? And co 
him who nasteih Thee not, what is there which can make him 
joyousP Bui the worldly wise, aad ihcy who enjoy ihc flesh, these 
h\\ in Thy wisdom; for In the wisdom of the wodd h found uCLer 
vanity, and to be carnally minded is death. Bin they who follow 
after Thee through contempt of worldly things^ and mortrfication 
of the flesh, are found to be the truly wise because they are carried 
from vanity to verity, from the flesh to the spirit. They laate that 
the Lord is good, and whatsoever good ihey find in creatures, they 
count it all unto the praise of the Creator. Unlike^ yea, very tinlike 
is the enjoyment of the Creator to enjoymcnc of ihe Cre:itiire, the 
enjoyment of eternity and of time, o£ light uncreated and of light 
reflected, 

3. O Light everlasting, surpassing ^11 created lights, dart down 
Tiiy ray from on high which shall pierce the inmost depths of my 
heart. Give purity, joy, clearness, life to my spirit that with all its 
powers it may cleave unto Thee with rapture passing man's under- 
standing. Oh when shall that blessed and longed-toT time come 
when Thou shalt satisfy me with Thy presence, and be unto me 
All in all ? So long as this is delayed, my joy shall not be fulh Still, 
ah mel the old man iiveth in me: he is not yei 3II crucified^ not yet 
quire dead; still he lusteth fiercely against the spirit, wageth inward 
wars, nor suHereth the soul's kingdom to be in peace. 

4. But T/:o!i who ruUst the raging of the sea, and stillest the waves 
thereof lichen they arise, rise up and help me. Scatter thi people that 
delight in war? Destroy them by Thy po^ver. Show forth, I be- 
seech Thee, Thy might, and let Thy right hand be glorified, for I 
have no hope, no refuge, save in Thee, O Lord my God. 

CHAPTER XXXV 

THAT THERE JS NO SECURITY AGAINST TEMPTATION' (N" TtiiS LZFE 

"Mv Son^ thou art never secure In this life, but thy spiritual armour 
will always be needful for thee as Jong as thou livest. Thou dwell- 
est among foes, and art attacked on the right hand and on the left. 
If therefore thou use not on all sides the shield of patience, thou 
will not remain long unwounded. Above all, if thou keep not thy 
\ ^Ptafm IxviiL 3a. 



300 THE IMITATION OF CHBIST 

heart fixed upon Me with steadfast purpose to bear all things for My 
Siike, thou shalt not be able to bear the fierceness of the attcick, nor 
[o attain to the victory of the blessed. Therefore must tboii struggle 
bravely all thy life through, and put forth a strong hand against 
those things which oppose thee. For to him that ovcrcometh is the 
hidden manna given/ hut great misery is reserved for the slothful. 

2, *'ff thou seek rest in this life, how then wilt thou attain unto the 
rest which is eternal? Set not thyself to aitam much rest, but much 
patience. Seek the true peace, not in earch but in heaven, not in 
man nor in any created thing, but in God alone. For the love of 
God thou must willingly undergo all things, whether labours or 
sorrows, temptations, vexations* aaxieties* necessities, infirmities, in- 
juries, gainsay JDgs, rebukes, humiliations, confusions, corrections, 
despisings; these things help unto virtue, these things prove the 
scholar of Christ; these things fashion the heavenly crown. I will 
give thee an eternal reward for shorL labour^ and infinite glory for 
transient shame. 

3, "Thinkest thou that rhou shalt always have spiritual consola- 
tions at thy will? My Saints had never such, but instead thereof 
manifold griefs, and divers temptations, and hea\7 desolations. But 
patiently they bore themselves in all, and trusted in God mote than 
in themselves, knowing that the sufferings of (his present time ar^ 
not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be repealed 
in us} Wouldst thou have that immediately which many have 
hardly attained unto after many tears and hard labours? Wait for' 
the Lord, quit thyself like a man and be strong; be not faint-i 
hearted, nor go aside from Me, but consiantly devote thy body and 
soul to the glory of God. I will reward thee plenteously, / mil bt 
with thee in trouble."^ 

CHAPTER XXXVI 

ACAIN-ST VAIM JL'DGMEXTS OF MEV 

"My Son, anchor thy soul firmly upon God, and fear not man's 
judgment, when conscience pronounceth thee pious and innocent. It 
is good and blessed thus to suffer; nor will it be grievous to the 

* Ren:laTion ii, 17. ^ Romans viii. 17. ^Psjlm xci. 15. 




THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 3OI 

heart which is humble, .ind which imstech hi Go^ more than in 
itselt. Many men have many opinions, and therefore linle trust is 
10 be placed in ihcm. But moreover it is impo^ible [0 please all. 
Allhough Paul studied to please all men in the Lord, and to become 
till thiii'^s to all nimi,^ yet nevertheless tfitk him it was a very small 
thing that he should be judged by man's j^ulpm/Jt."^ 

2, He laboured abundantly, as much as in him lay, foe the build- 
ing up and the salvation of others; bur he could not avoid being 
sometimes judged and despised by others* Therefore he committed 
all 10 God» who knew all, and by pntiencc and humility defended 
himself against evil speakers, or fooliih and false thinkers^ and those 
who accused him according to their pleasure. Nevertheless, from 
time to time he replied, lest his silence should become a stumbling- 
block to those «'ho were weak. 

3. "Who t>rt ihon, that thou shoiildst be afraid of a mati that 
shtdl die? To-day he is, and tomorrow his place is not found. Fear 
God and thou shale not quail before [he terrors of men. What can 
any man do against ihee by ^vords or deeds? He hurteth himself 
more than ihee, nor shall he escape the judgment of God, whosoever 
he may be. Have thou God before thine eyes, and do not contend 
with fretful words. And if for the present thou seem to give way, 
and to suffer confusion which thou base not deserved, be nor angry 
at this, nor by impatience diminish thy reward; but rather look up 
to Me in heaven^ for I am able to deliver thee from all confusion 
and hurt, and to render to every man according to his works." 

CHAPTER XXXVn 

dp PU^E AND EVTtRE EESICN'ATION OF SELF, FOR THE OflTArVINC 

LifiEBTV OF tlEA^RT 

"Mv Son> lose thyself and thou shalt find Me, Stand still without 
all choosing and all thought of self, and thou shalt ever be a gainer. 
For more grace shall be added to thee, as soon as thou tesignest thy- 
self, and so long as thou dost nor turn back to take thyself again." 

2. O Lord, how often shall I resign myself, and in what things 
shall I lose myself? 



! 



)i 



302 lilE IMITATION" OF CHRIST 

j, "AUvays; every hour: in thjt which is little, and in ihar which 
is great. I make no exception, bur will thai chou he found naked in 
ail things. Oilierwise how cansE ihou be Mine yiid 1 ihint. unless 
thou be inwardly and outwardly free from every will of thine own? 
The sooner thou dost this, the better shall it be with thee; and ihe 
more fully and sincerely, the more [hou shak please Me, and the 
more abundanily shalt ihou be rewarded, 

4. "Some resign themselves, but with certain reservations, for they 
do not fully trust in God, therefore they think that they have aime 
provision to make for themselves. Some again at first offer every- 
thmg; but afterwards being pressed by temptation they return to 
their own devices, and thus make no progress in virtue. They will 
not attain to the true liberty of a pure heart, nor to the grace of 
My sweel companionship, unless they firsE entirely resign them- 
selves and tfaily offer themselves up as a. sacrifice; without this the 
union which bringeth forth fruit standeth nor nor will stand. 

5. "Many a time I have said unto thee, and now say again, Give 
thyself up, resign thyself, and thou shalt have great inward peace. 
Give all for all; demand nothing, ask nothing in return; stand sim- 
ply and with no hesitation in Me, and thou shalt possess Me, Thou 
shalt havo liberty of heart, and the darkness shall not overwhelm 
thee. For this strive thou, pray for it, long after it, chat thou mayest 
be delivered from all possession of thyself, and njkedly follow Jesus 
who was made naked for thee; mayesi die unto thyself and live 
eternally to Me. Then shall all vain fancies disappear, all evil dis- 
lurbings, and superfluous cares. Then also shall immoderate fear 
dcprt from thee^ and inordinate love shall die." 



CHAPTER xxxvni 

OF A, GOOH GOVEHNMt>HT IX EXTERNAL THI\'GS, AND OF HAVING 

J[ECOU]?SE TO GOD IN DANCERS 

"Mv Son, for this thou must diligently make thy endeavour^ that 
in every place and outward action or occupation thou mayest be 
free wilhin, and have power over thyself; and that all things be 
under thee, not thou under them; that thou be master and ruler of 



It 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 3O3 

thy actions, not !i slave or hireling* but rather a £rce and true He- 
brsWt entering into the lot and che liberty of the children of God, who 
stand above the present and look upon the eternal, who with the 
left eye behold things tranaitory, and wuh the right things heavenly; 
whom tcmpor:il things draw not to cleave unto, buE who rather 
draw Eeinpural things to do them good service, even as they were 
ordained of God to do, and apptiintcd by the Master Workman, 
whu harh lef[ noughr in His creation widiout aim and end. 

2, "And a in any chance of life ihou stand not in outward ap- 
pearances, nor judgesc things which are seen and heard by the 
fleshy ssense, but straightway in every cause enterest with Moses 
into the tabernacle to ask counsel □£ God; thou shalt hear a divine 
response and come forth instructed concerning many things that are 
and shall be. For always Moses had recourse to [he tabernacle for 
the solving of all doubts and questionings; and fled 10 the help of 
prayer to be delivered from the dangers and evil deeds of men. 
Thus also oughtesl thou 10 % to the secret chamber of thy heart, 
and earnestly implore the divine succour. For dus cause we read 
that Joshua and the ch[ldren o£ Israel were deceived by the Giheon- 
iles, that they asf^cd not counsel at the mouth of the Lord} but 
being too ready to listen to fair speeches, were deceived by pretended 
piety." 

CHAPTER XXXIX 

THAT MAN MUST NOT flE IM.^iEJtSED IN' BUSINESS 

'*Mv Son, always commit thy cause to Me; I will dispose it aright 
in due time. Wait for My arrangement of it, and then thou shall 
find it for thy profit." 

2. O Lord, right freely 1 commit all things to Tliee; for my plan- 
ning can profit but little. Oh that I did not dwell so much on future 
events, buc could offer myself altogether to Thy pleasures without 
delay, 

3, "My Son, a man often striveth vehemendy after somewhat 
which he desireth; but when he hath obtained it he beginneth ca 
be of another mind, because his affections towards it are not lasting, 

Wu^hua is, H. 



304 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

buE rather rush on from one thing to another. ThercEorc jt is not 
really a small thing, when in small things we resist self." 

4, The true progress of man lieth in self-deniiil, and a man who 
denieth himself is free and safe. BuE the old enemy, opposer of all 
good things, ce;iseth not from tempiation; but day and night settcth 
his wicked snares^ if haply he may be ^blc to entrap the unwarv. 
Waich and pray, sailh the Lord, hsl ye enter into temptation.* 

CHAPTER XL 

THAT MAN HATH NO GOOD IN HIMSELV, AND NOTilING 

WMEREOF TO riI,QRV 

LORD, tvhat is man thai: Thou iin mindjut 0} him, or the son 
of man that Thou visitest him?^ What hath man deserved, that 
Thou shouldest bestow thy favour upon him ? Lord» what cause can 
I have of complaint^ if Thou forsake me? Or what can I jusdy 
allege, if Thou refuse to hear my petition? Of a truth, this I may 
truly rhink and say, Lord, I am nothing, I have nothing that is 
good of myself, but I fall short in all things, and ever tend unto 
nothing. And unless 1 am helped by Thee and inwardly supported, 
I become altogether lukewarm and reckless, 

2. But Thou, O Lord, art always the same, and cndurest for ever, 
always good, righteous, and holy; doing all things well, righteously, 
and holily, and disposing all in Thy wisdom. But I who am more 
ready to go forward than backward, never coniinue in one stay, 
because changes sevenfold pass over me. Yet it quickly becometh 
belter when It so pleaseili Thee, and Thou puttest forth Thy hand 
to help me; because Thou alone canst aid without help of man, 
and canst so strengthen me that my countenance shall be no more 
changed, but my heart shall be turned to Thee, and rest in Thee 
alone. 

3. Wherefore, if 1 but knew well how to reject all human con- 
solations, whether for the sake of gaining devotion, or because of 
the necessity by which 1 was compelled (o seek Thee, seeing there is 
no man who can comfort me; then could 1 worthily trust in Thy 
grace, and rejoice in the gift of new consolation. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 305 

4. Thanks be 10 Thee» from whom all cometh, whensoever rt 
gc4?th well with me! Bui I ym "^'anity and noshing in Thy sighl, 
a man inconsiani and weak. What then have 1 whereof to glory^ 
or why do I long to be held in honour? Is it not for nought? This 
also is utterly vain. Verily vain glory is an evil plague, the great- 
est of vanities, because it draweth us away from the [rue glory, and 
robbeth us of heavenly grace. For whilst a man pieaseth himself he 
displeaseth Thee; whilst he gapeth after the praises of maii^ he is 
deprived of true virtues. 

5. liut true glory and holy rejoicfng jieth in glorying in Thee 
and not in self; in rejoicing in Thy Name, noc In our own viriue; 
in not taking dehghi in any creature, save only for Thy sake. Let 
thy Niime* not mine be praised; let Thy work, not mine be mag- 
nificd; let Thy holy Name be blessed* but to mc let nought be given 
of the praises of men. Thou art my glory, Thou art the joy of my 
heart. In Thee will 1 make my boast and be glad all the day long, 
bur for myself lei me not glory sane only in my infirmiiies.^ 

6. Let the Jews secli t^c honour which cometh from onf: another; 
but I will ask for that which comcth from God only} Truly all 
human gloty, all temporal honour, all worldly exultation, compared 
to Thy eternal glory, is but vanity and foUy. O God my Truth 
and my Mercy, Blessed Trinity, to Thee alone be all praise, honour, 
power, and glory for ever and for ever. Amen. 

CHAPTER XLI 

OF CONTEMPT OF ALL TEMPORAL HONOUR 

''Mv Son, make it no matter of thine, if thou see others honoured 
and eKalted, and thyself despised and humbled. Lift up thine heart 
CO Me in heaven, and then the contempt of men upon earth will 
not make thee sad." 

2. O Lortl, we are in blindness, and arc quickly seduced by 
vanity. If \ look rightly within myself, never was injury done unto 
me by any creature, and therefore I have nought whereof lo com- 
plain before Thee. But because I have many times and grievously 

^1 Coni^ihi^n^ xii. 5. 'John v. ^4. 



3 . 

I 



W6 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

sinned against Thee, all creatures do justly tate arms against me. 
Therefore to mo confusion and coniempr are justly due, bat to 
Thee praise and honoar and glory. And except I dispose myself 
for this, namely, to be willing that every creature should despise and 
desert me* and that 1 should be esteemed altogether as noihing, I 
cannot be inwardly filled with peace and strength, nor spiritually 
eohghienedj nor fully united to Thee. 

CHAPTER XLU 

THAT OLE. PEACE IS NOT TO BE PLACED IN MEN 

"Mv Son, if thou sec thy peace on any person because ihou hast 
high opinion oi him, and art familiar with him, thou shah be 
unstable and entangled. Bur if thou betake thyself to the ever- 
living and abiding Truth, the desertion or death of a friend shall 
not make thee sad. In Me ought the love of thy friend to subsist, 
and for My sake is every one to be loved, whosoever he be, who 
appeared! to thee good, and is very dear to ihce in this life. With- 
out Me friendship hath no strength or endurance, peiiher is that 
love true and pure, which 1 unite not. Thou oughtest to be so dead 
to such affections of beloved friends, that as far as in thee lieth, 
thou wouldst rather choose to be without any companionship of 
men. The nearer a man approacheih to God, the further he recedeth 
from all earthly solace. The deeper also he dcscendeth into him- 
self, and the viler he appeareth in his own eyes, the higher he 
ascendeth towards God. 

2. "But he who atiribuieth anything good to himself, hindereth 
the grace of God from coming to him, because the grace of tlie 
Holy Ghost ever seeketh the humble heart. If thou couldsE make 
thyself utterly nothing, and empty thyself of the love of every crea- 
ture, then should it be My part to overflow unto thee with great 
grace. When thou settest thine eyes upon creatures, the face of the 
Creator is withdrawn from thee. Learn in all things to conquer 
thyself for thy Creator's sake, then shait thou be able to attain unto 
divine knowledge. How small soever anything be, if it be loved 
and regarded inordinately, it holdeth us back from tlie highest good, 
and corrupceth." 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 307 

CHAPTER XLIll 

AGAINST VAIN AXD WORLDLY K>"OWLED(i£ 

"Mv Son, IcL noi the fair and subile sayings of meri move ihee. 
For the l^jfi^dom of God is not in word, but in power.^ Give ear 
10 My woids^ for they kijidle ihe heart and enlighten che mind, they 
bring coturition, and (hey supply manifold consobtions. Never read 
ihou ihe word thai thou mayest appear more lejrned or wise; but 
study ioT the mortrficatron o£ thy szns, for this will be far more 
profiLable for thee than the knowledge of many diilicuit questions. 

2. "When thou hast read and learned many things, thou must 
always return to one firsi principle. I am He that teachsth maa 
f{nou'iedge^ and 1 gi^e unto babes clearer knowledge Lhan can be 
laughi by man. He to whom I speak will be qirickly wise and shall 
groiv much in the spirit. Woe unto them who inquire into many 
ctjrious quesiions from men, and take litde heed concerning the 
way of My service. The time will come when Christ will appear, 
the Master of masters, the Lord of the Angels, to hear the lessons 
of all, thai is to examine the consciences of each one. And then will 
He icarch fcmsalem with candles^ and the hidden things of dari^- 
ness* shall be made manifest, and the arguings of tongues shall be 
silent. 

3. "I am He who in an instant lift up the humble spirit, to learn 
more reasonings of the Eternal Truth, than if a man had studied 
ten years in the schools. I teach without noise of words, tvithout 
confusion of opinions, without striving after honour, without clash 
of arguments- I am He who teach men to despise earthly things, to 
loathe things present, to seek things heavenly, to enjoy things eter- 
nal, to flee honours, to endure offences^ to place all hope in Me» to 
desire nothing apart from Me, and above all things to love Me 
ardendy. 

^. '^For there was one, who by loving Me from the bottom of 
his heart, learned divine things, and spake things that were won- 
derful; he profited more by forsaking all things than by studying 

^ I Coiinttiian^ iv. 20. ^Pi^lm xciv. id, 

^ Zi^phonJah i. II, * I CorJnthJdnb iv. 5. 



308 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

subtleties. But ro some I speak common things, to others special; 
to some i appear gcitily in signs and figures, and ygain to some 1 
reve.il mysteries in much light. The voice of hooks is one, but it 
informeih not all alike; bccituse I inwardly am the Teacher of truth, 
the Searcher o[ the he^jrl^ the Discerncr oE the thoughts, the Mover 
of actions, distributing to each man* as I judge meet." 

CHAPTER XLiV 

OV NOT TROUBLING OUBSELVFS ABOL'T OUTWARJ* THINGS 

*'My Son* in many things it behovcth thee to be ignorant, and to 
esteem thyself as one dead upon the earth, and as one Eo whom the 
whole world is crucified. Many things also ihou must pass by with 
deaf ear, and must rather think upon those things which belong 
unto thy peace. It is more profitable lo turn away thine eyes from 
those things that displease, and to leave each man to his own opin- 
ion, than to give thyself to discourses of strife. If thou stand well 
with God and hast His judgment in thy mind, thou wilt verily 
easily bear to be as one conquered." 

2. O Lord, to what have we come? Behold a temporal loss is 
mourned over; for a trifling gain we labour and hurry; and spiritual 
loss passeth away into furget fulness, and we rarely recover it. That 
which proliteth Ittde or nothing is looked after, and that which is 
altogether necessary is negligently passed by; because the whole 
man slidelh away to outward things, and unless he quickly recov- 
ereth himself in outward things he willingly lielh down. 

CHAPTER XLV 

THAT WE MUST NOT BELIEVE f.VERYONEj AND THAT WE ARE PaO^JE 

TO PALL IN' OUR WORDS 

LORD, be thou my help in trouble, jor vain is the hdp of man} 
How often have I failed to find faithfulness, where I thought 1 
possessed it. How many limes I have found it where I least es- 
pected. Vain therefore is hope in men, but the salvation of the 

ip^alm Is. ri. 



THE IMITATION OV CHRIST 309 

just^ O God, is in Thcc. iJiesstd be thou, O Lord my God» in all 
things which h;tppen unco us. We are weak and unstiible, we are 
quickfy deceived and quice changed. 

2. Who h ihe man who is able to keep himself so warily and cir- 
cumspecily as not somciimcs lo come into some snare ot perplexity? 
livn he who [riisceth in Theej O Lord, and seeketh Thee with an 
unfeigned hear], doih not so easily slip. And i£ he faJl inio any 
tribjladon, howsoevt-r he may be entangled, yet very quickly he 
shall be delivered ihrough Thee, or by Thee shall be combrted, 
because Thou wik not forsake liim that trusteth in Thcc unto the 
end. A fiicnd who continticih faiihful in all the di^iresses of his 
friend is rare to be found. Thou, O Lord, Thou alone art mosi 
faithful in all things, and there is none other like unto Thee, 

3. Oh, how truly wise was that holy soul which said, "My mind 
is sieadfasdy fixed, and k is grounded in Christ,"^ If thus it were 
with me, the fear of man should not so easily tempt me, nor the 
atrows of words move me. Who is suHicieni to foresee all things, who 
to guard bcfoTehand against future ills? If even things which are 
foreseen sometimes hurt us, what can things which are not foreseen 
do, but grievouslv injure? But wherefore have I not better provided 
for myself* miserable that I am? Why, too* have I given such heed 
to others? iiut we arp men, nor are we other than frail men, even 
though by many we are reckoned and called angels. Whom shall 
r trust, O Lord, whom shall 1 trust but Thee? Thou art che Truth, 
and deceivesi not, nor canst be deceived. And on the other hand, 
Efffry man is a liar} weak, unstable and frail, especially in his 
words, so rhac one ought scarcely ever to believe what seemeth to 
sound right on the face of it. 

4. With what wisdom hast thou warned us beforehand to beware 
oj men, and that a mans joes are they oj his own household,^ and 
that we must not believe if one say unto us Lo here, or Lo there? 
1 have been taught by my loss, and O that I may prove more careful 
and not foolish hereby. "Be cautiouSi" saith some one: "be cautious, 
keep unto thyself whar 1 tell thee." And whilst 1 am silent and be- 
lieve that it is hid with me, he himself cannot keep silence concern- 



310 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

ing U, but straightway betraycth me and himself, and gOclK his 
way. ProEect me, O Lord, from iuch mischief-msking and reckless 
men; let me not fall into their hands, nor ever do such things my- 
self. Put 3 Iiue and steadfast word into my mouth, and remove a 
deceitful tongue far from me. What I would not suffer, I ought by 
all means to beware of doing, 

5. Oh, how good and peacemaking a thing it is to be sflenC Con- 
cerning others, and not carelessly to believe all reports, nor to hand 
them on further; how good also to lay one's self open to few, to 
seek ever to have Thee as the beholder of the heart; not to be car- 
ried about with every wind of word?, but to desire that all things 
inward and outward be done according 10 the good pleasure of Thy 
will! How safe for the preserving of heavenly grate to fly from 
human approval, and not to long after the things which seem to 
win admiration abroad, but to follow with all earnestness those 
things which bring amendment of life and heavenly fervour! How 
many have been injured by their virtue being made known and 
too hastily praised. How truly profitable hath been grace preserved 
in silence in this frail life, which, as we are told, is all temptation 
and warfare. 

CHAPTER XLVr 

OF HAVIN'G CONFIDENCE IN GOD WHEN EVIL WORDS AkE CAST AT US 

*'Mv Son, Stand fast and believe in Me. For what are words but 
wordsP They fly through the air, but they bruise no stone. If thou 
are guilty, think how thou wouldst gladly amend thyself; if thou 
knowest nothing against thyself, consider that thou wilt gladly bear 
this for God's sake, li is little enough that thou sometimes hast 
to bear hard words, for thou art not yet able to bear hard blows. 
And wherefore do such trivial matters go to thine heart, except 
that thoti an yet carnal, and regardest men more than thou ought- 
est? For because thou fearesc to be despised, thou art unwilling to 
be reproved for thy faults, and seekest paltry shelters of excuses, 

2. "But look better into thyself, and thou shak know that the 
world is 5tiU alive in thee, and the vain love of pleasing men. For 
when thou fleest away from being abased and confounded for thy 



THE !MITATroN OF CHRIST 3II 

faults, if is plain ihat thou an neither truly humble nor Eruly dead 
to the world, and [h,it the v^'orld is not crucified to thee. But 
hearken to My word, and ihou shale not care for ten ihousn^nd 
words of men. Behold, if all things could be said against thee which 
the uimost malice could invent, what should k hurt thee if thou 
wcrt aUogeiher to let it go, and make no more account of it ihan 
of a mote; Could it pluck out a single hait of thy head? 

3. "Bui he that hath no heart within him, and hath not God 
before his eyes, is easily luoved by a word of reproach; but he ^vho 
irusieih in Me, and seeketh not to iibide by his own judgment, shall 
be free from the fear of men. For I am the Judge and the Discemer 
(if all secrets; I know how the thing haih been done; I know both the 
injurer and the bearer. From Me went forth that word, by My pi?r- 
mission this hath happened, t/iat ihe ihoiighls oj many hearts inay 
he rsuealcd} \ shall judge the guilty and the innocent; but before- 
hand I have willed to try them both by a secret judgment. 

4- "The testimony of men often deceiveth. My judgment is true; 
if will siand, and it shall not be overturned. It commonly lieth hidj 
and only to few in certain cases is it made known; yet it never 
erreth, nor can err, although it seem not right to the eyes of foolish 
men. To Me, therefore, must men have recourse in all judgment, 
and must not lean to their opinion. For there shall no €pil happen to 
the justi whatsoever may be sent to him by God. Even though 
some unjust charge be brought against him, he will care little; nor, 
again, will he exult above measure, if through others he he clearly 
vindicated. For he consldereth that 1 am He who try the hearts and 
reins^ who judge not outwardly and according to human appear- 
ance; for often in Mine eyes that is found blameworthy which in the 
judgment of men is held worthy of prarse." 

5, O Lord God, O Judge, just, strong, and parient, who knowest 
the fraiky and sinfulness of men, be Thou my strength and my 
whole confidence; for my own conscience sufficeth me not. Thou 
knowest what I know not; and therefore ought 1 under all rebuke 
to humble myself, and to bear it meekly. Therefore mercifully for- 
give me as often as 1 have not done this, and grant me the next 
lime the grace of greater endurance. For better unio me is Thine 
^Lukc 11. 35, ^ Proverbi ^ii, ;j, ^Pialm vii. 9. 



312 THE IMITATIOX OF CHRIST 

abundant pity for the attainment of Thy pardon^ than the righteous- 
ness which I beheve myself [o have for defence against my con- 
science, which licEh wait against me. Although I ^noti^ nothing 
against Tuyself, yet ajn I not hereby justified^ because if Thy mercy 
were removed away* in Thy sight should no man tiffing be justified? 

CHAPTER XLVll 

THAT ALL TROUBLES ARE TO BE ES'DlifiED FOR THE SAKE OF 

ETEPNAL LIFE 

"Mv Son, let not the labours which thou hast undertaken for Me 
break thee down, nor let tribuladons c;l51 [hcc down in any wise, 
but let my promise strengthen and comEctrt thee in every event. 1 am 
sufficient to reward rhee above all measure and extent. Not long 
shalt thou labour here, nor always be weighed down with sorrows. 
Wail yet a little while, and thou shalt see a speedy end of thine 
evils. An hour shall come when all labour and confusion shall 
cease. Little and short is all that passeth away with time. 

3, *'Do earnestly what thou dost; labour faithfully in My vine- 
yard; I will be thy reward. Write, read, sing, weep, be silent, pray, 
endure adversities manfully; eternal hfe is worthy of ail these con- 
flicts, yea, and of greater. Peace shall come in one day which is 
kjiown to the Lord; which shall he neither day nor night^ but light 
eternal, infinite clearness, steadfast peace, and undisturbed rest. 
Thou shalt not say then. Who shall delitfer nis jrom the body of 
this deal h?^ noT cry out, Woe is me, for my sojourning is prolonged? 
because death will be utterly destroyed, and there shall be salva- 
tion which can never fail, no more anxiety, happy delight, sweet and 
noble society, 

3. *'Oh, if ihoTi sawest tlie unfading crowns of the Saints in 
heaven, and with what great glory they now rejoice, who aforetime 
were reckoned by this world contemptibly and as it were unworthy 
of life, truly thou wouldst immediately humble thyself even to the 
eardi, and wouldst desire rather to be in subjection to all, than to 

*1 C(>rinl1iians iv. 4. ^t^tnlm rdiii. 2. ^Zechaliah xiv. 7. ^Ronims vil. 24. 

V * P^dni CSS. - 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 3x3 

have authoriEj' over one; nor wouldsc iliou long for pleasiint days 
o£ this life, buc wouJdsi more refnicc to be iifflictcd for God's sake, 
and wouldst es^feem i[ gain lo he coiinred for nought anifFng^t men. 
4. "Oh, if ihese things were sweet to thy taste, and muvt:d thee Lo 
the bottom of ihiiie heart, how shouldst thou dare even once to 
complain? Are not all laborious ihings to be endured for the sake 
of eternal life? It is no small thing, the losing or gaining the King- 
dom of God. Lift up therefore thy face to heaven. Behold, I and 
all My Saints with Me, who in this world had a hard conHiet, now 
rejoice, are now comforted, are now secure, are now at peace, and 
shall remain with Me evermore in the Kingdom of My Father." 



CHAPTER XLVni 

OF lEIE DAV Oy ETEBNI-CV ASU 01^ THF. STRAJTNESSES OK TI3IS LIlE 

Oji most blessed mansion of the Ciiy which is above! Oh most 
clear day o£ eternity which the night obscureth not, but the Supreme 
Truth ever enlighteneth! Day always joyful, always secure and 
never changing its state into those which are contrary. Oh would 
that this day might shine forth, and that all these temporal things 
would come to an end. It shineth indeed upon the Saints, glowing 
with unending brightnessi but only from afar and through a glass, 
upon those who are pilgrims on the earth. 

2. The citizens of heaven know hoiv glorious that day is; the 
exiled sons of Eve groan, because this is bitter and wearisome. The 
days of this life are few and evil, full of sorrows and straits, where 
man is defiled with many sins, ensnared with many passions, bound 
fast with many fears, we,iried wiih many cares, distracted with many 
questionings, entangled with many vanities, compassed about with 
many errors, worn away with many labours, weighed down with 
temptations, enervated by pleasures, tormented by poverty- 

3. Oh when shall there be an end of these evils? When shall 1 
be delivered from the wretched slavery of my sins? When shall I 
be mindful, O Lord, of Thee alone? When shall 1 rejoice in Thee 
to the full? When shall 1 be in true hberty without any impcdi- 
ment, without any burden on mind or body? When shall there be 



314 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

solid pciice, peace immovable aad secure^ peace wifhin and without^ 
peace firm on every side? Blessed Jesus, when shali I stand to behuld 
Thee? When shall I gaze upon the glory of Thy kingdom ? When 
shalt Thou be to me all in all? Oh when sl^^dl I be with Thee in 
Thy Kingdom which Thou hast prepared from the foundation of 
[he world for them [hat love Thee? I am left destitute, an ej^ile in 
a hostile land, where are daily wars and grievous misfortunes. 

4. Console my exile, mitigate my sorrow, for towards Thee all my 
desire Icngeth. For all is to me a burden^ whatsoever this world 
oifereih for consolation. I yearn 10 enjoy Thee intimately, but I 
cannot attain unto it. I long to cleave to heavenly things, but tem- 
poral things and unmortihiid passions press mo down. In my mind 
1 would be above all ihings, but in my flesh I am unwillingly com- 
pelled [O be beneath them. So, wretched man that I am, I fight with 
myselfi and am made grievous even unto myself^ while the spirit 
seeketh to be above and the flesh to be beneath. 

5. Oh how I suffer inwardly, while with the mind I discourse on 
heavenly things, and presently a crowd of carnal things rusherh 
upon me whilst I pray. My God, be not Thotc far from me, nor 
depart in wrath from Thy servant. Cast forth Thy lightning and 
scatter them', send out Thine artoius^ and let all delusions of my 
enemy be confounded. Recall my senses unio Thyself, cause me to 
forget all worldly things; granc me quickly 10 cast away and despise 
[he imaginaiions of sin- Succour me, O Eternal Truth, that no 
vanity may move me. Come unto mc, O Heavenly Sweetness, and 
let all impurity flee from before Thy face. Pardon mc also, and of 
Thy mercy deal gendy with me, whensoever in prayer I think on 
anything besides Thee; for truly I confess that I am wont to be con- 
tinually distracted. For often and often^ where in the body 1 stand 
or sit, there I myself am not; but rather am I there^ whither I am 
borne by my thoughts. Where my thought is, there am I; and there 
commonly is my thought where that which 1 love is. That readily 
occurreth to me, which naturally delighteth, or pleaseth through 
custom. 

6. Wherefore Thou, who art the Truth, hasr plainly said, Where 
yottr trei^siire iS. there will yoin' heart be aUo.^ If I love heaven, I 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 315 

gladly medirare on heavenly t:hings. If I love die worlds I rejoice in 
ihe delighrs of the worlds and am madt! sorry by jcs adversities. If 
I love the flesh, I am continually imagining the things which belong 
to the flesh; if I love the spirit, 1 am delighted by mediEating on 
spirjiud things. For whatsoever things I love» on these T readily 
converse and listen, and carry home wiih me the images oi them. 
But blessed is that man who for Thy sak.e» O Lord^ is willing to 
pare from all creatures; who doth violence to his fleshly nature and 
crucifieth the lusts of the fiesh by [he fervour of his spirit, so that 
with serene conscience he may offer unto Thee a pure prayer, and 
be made worthy to enter into the angelic choirs, having shut out 
from himself^ both outv/ardiy itnd inwardly, all worldly things. 

CHAPTER XLIX 

OF THE UtSIKE AKTETi ETERNAL LIFE, AXU IIGW tJPEAT liLESSlN'CS AKE 

PRONtlSETJ TO THOSE WHO STR1\'E 

"My Son, when thou feelest the desire of eternal happiness to be 
poured into thee from above, and longest to depart from the taber- 
nacle of this body, diat ihou mayest contemplate My glory wichout 
shadow of turning, enlarge thine heart, and lake in thiJi holy inspira- 
tion with all thy desire. Give most hearty thanks to tlie Supreme 
Goodness, who dealeth with thee so graciously, visiteth thee so 
lovingly, stirreth thee up so fervendy, raiseth thee so powerfully, 
lest thou sink down through thine own weight, to earthly things. 
For not by thine own meditating or striving dost thou receive this 
gift, but by the sole gracious condescension of Supreme Grace and 
Divine regard; to the end that thou maycst make progress in virtue 
and in more humility, and prepare thyself for future conflicts^ and 
cleave unto Me with all the affection of thy heart, and strive lo 
serve Me with fervent will. 

2, *'My Son, often the fire burneih, but the flame ascendeth not 
without smoke. So also the desires of some men burn towards heav- 
enly things, and yet ihey are nor free from the temptation of carnal 
affection. Thus therefore they are not acting with an altogether 
simple desire for God's glory when they pray to Him so earnestly. 






3l6 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

Such, loo, is ofieniimes ihy desire, when thou hast imagined it to 
be 50 earnest. For that is not pure and perfect which is tciinred with 
thine own self-sccking. 

3. "Seek thou not what is pleasant and advantageous to thyself^ 
but whai is acceptable and honoumble unto Me; for i£ thou judgest 
righriy, thou musr choose and folJow after My appointment rather 
than thine own desire; yea, F,tEher than anything that can be de- 
sired. I know tliy desire, and 1 have heard thy many groanings. 
Already thou longest to be in the glorious liberty of ilie children 
of God; already the eternal home delighteth thee, and the heavenly 
country full of joy; but the hour is not yet come; there remaineth 
still another season, even a season of warfare, a season of labour and 
probation. Thou desirest to be filled with the Chief Good, buf tliou 
canst not attain it immediately. I A^t that Good; wait for Mc» until 
the Kingdom of God shall come. 

4. "Thou must still be tried upon earth, and be exercised in many 
things. Consolation shall from time to time be given ihce, but 
abundant satisfying shall not be granted. Be strong therefore, and 
be thou brave both in working and in suffering things which are 
against thy nature. Thou must put on ihe new man, and be 
changed into another man. Thou must often do what thou wouldst 
not; and thou must leave undone what thou wouldst do. What 
pleaseih others shall have good success, what pleaseih thee shall have 
no prosperity. What others say shall be listened to; what ihou sayest 
shall receive no heed. Otiicrs shall ask and receive; thou shak ask 
and not obtain. Others sliall be great in the report of men, but about 
thee shall nothing be spoken. To others this or that shall be 
entrusted; thou shak be judged useful for nought. 

5. "For this cause nature shall sometimes be filled with sadness; 
and it is a great thing if thou bear it silently. In this and many like 
things the faithful servant of the Lord is wont to be tried, how far 
he is able to deny himself and bring himself into subjection in all 
things. Scarcely is there anything in which thou hast need to mor- 
tify thyself so much as in seeing things which are adverse to thy will; 
especially when things are commanded thee to be done which seem 
to thee inexpedient or of litde use to thee. And because thou darest 
not resist a higher power, being under authority, therefore it seem- 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 317 

ech hard for ibee 10 shape ihy course according to the nod of 
another, and to forego ihine own opinion. 

6. "Bm consider. My Son, the fruit of these labours^ the swifc 
end, and ihe reward exceeding great; and thou shak find it no puln 
to be.ir them then, but rather the strongest solace of thy patience. 
For even in exchange for rhis trifling^ desire which thou hasi readily 
forsaken, thou shaft always have thy will in Heaven- There verily 
thou shalt find nil that ihou wouldsE, all that thou canst long for. 
There thou shah have all good within thy power without the fear 
of losing it. There ihy will, ever at one with Mine, ihall desire 
nothing outward, nothing for itself. There no man shall withstand 
thee, none ihall complain of [bee, none shall hinder, nothing shall 
stand in thy path; but all things desired by thee shall be presenE 
together^ and shall refresh thy whole affettion^ and fill it up even to 
the brim. There I will glory for the scorn suffered here» the gar- 
ment of ptaise for sorrow, and for the lowest place a throne in the 
Kingdom, for ever. There shall appear the fruit of obedience, the 
labour of repentance shall rejoice, and humble subjection shall be 
crowned gloriously, 

7. '*Now therefore bow thyself humbly under the hands of all 
men; nor let it trouble thee who said this or who ordered that; but 
take special heed that whether thy superior, thy inferior, or thy 
equd, require anything from thee, or even show a desire for it; rake 
it all in good part, and study with a good will to fulfil the desire. 
Let one seek this, another that; let this man glory jn this, and that 
man in thai^ and be praised a [housand thousand times, but rejoice 
thou only in the contempt of thyself, and in Mine own good pleasure 
and glory. This is what thou art to long for, even that whether 
&y life or by death Cod way be ei^er magnified in thee."^ 

CHAPTER L 

ITOW A DESOLATE MAN OUGHT TO COMMIT HIMSElF INTO 

THE liAN'DS OF GOD 

O Lord, Holy Father, be Thou blessed now and evermore; bfl' 
cause as Thou wilt so it is done, and what Thou doest is good. Let 



3l8 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

Thy servant rejoke in Thee, not in hiin,self, nor in any other; 
bccriuse Thou alone art the true joy, Thou jrt my hope and my 
crown. Thou art my joy and my honour, O Lord. What hath Thy 
servant, which lie received not from Thee, even without mtrit of 
his own? Thine are alt things which Tliou hast given, and 
which Thou hast m:tde. / a7u poor and in miserv even jrom ?ny 
youth np^ and my soul is sorrowful unto [eiirs, sometimes al^o it is 
disquieted within itself, because of [he sufferings which are coming 
upon ][. 

2- I long after Lhe joy of peace; for the peace of Thy childreti 
do I beseech, for in the light of Thy comfort they are fed by Thee, 
If Thou give peace, if Thou pour into me holy joy, the .^oul of Thy 
servant shall be full of melody, and devout in Thy praise. But if 
Thou withdraw Thyself as too often Thou art wont, he will not 
be able to run in che way of Thy command men ts* but rather he will 
smite his breast and will bow his knees; because it is not with him 
as yesterday and the day before, when Thy candle- shined upon his 
hcad^ a?jd he wallied under lhe shadow oj Thy wings^ from the 
temptations which beset him, 

3- O Father, righteous and ever to be praised, the hour cometh 
when Thy servant is to be proved. O beloved Father, it is well that 
in this hour Thy servant suffer somewhat for Thy Siike- O Father, 
evermore to be adored, as the hour cometh which Thou foreknewest 
from everlasting, when for a liule while Thy servant should out- 
wardly bow down, but always live inwardly with Thee; when for a 
little while he should be little regarded, humbled, and fail in the 
eyes of men; should be wasted with sufferings and weaknesses, to 
rise again with Thee in the dawn o£ the new lighi, and be glorified 
in the heavenly plaees. O Holy Father, thou hast ordained it so, and 
so hast willed \v, and that is done which Thou Thyself hast com- 
manded, 

4. For this Is Thy favour to Thy friend, that he should suffer and 
he troubled in ihe world for Thy love's sake, how often soever, and 
by whomsoever and whosoever Thou hast suffered it to be done. 
Without Thy counsel and providence, and without cause, nothing 
cometh 10 pass on the earth. It is good for nie. Lord, that I had been 

' P^jlni K^vviii, 15, = Job x\i\. 3. ^ Pialm nviL S. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 319 

in trouMe, that I may Icurn Thy sumacs,^ and may tast away itll 
pride cf heart and pri^sQinption. Ie is protiuble for me that ton- 
fusion haih covered my face, ihat I may seek 10 Th<?e for consola- 
tion ryili'^r ihan iinio men. liy this also I have learned to diead 
Thine unsearchable judgment, who alTiictcst the just with the 
wicked, but not without equity and justice. 

5. Thanks be unto Thee, because Thou hast not spared my sins, 
but hast beaten me with stripes of love^ inflicting pains, and send- 
ing trouble.'i upon me withouc and wilhin. There is none who can 
console me, of all diings which are under heaven, but Thou only, 

Lord my God* Thou heavenly Physician of souls, who dost 
scourge and hast mercy, who Isadest down to hdi and bringest up 
again.'' Thy discipline over me, and Thy rod itself shall teach me. 

6. Behold, O beloved Father, I am in Thy hands, I bow myself 
under the rod o£ Thy correction. Smite my back and my neck thar 

1 may bend my crookedness to Thy ivilh Make me a pious and 
lowly disciple, as Thou wert wont to be kind, ihac I may walk 
according to every nod of Thine. To Thee I commend myself and 
all that 1 have tor correction; better is it to be punished here than 
hereafter. Thou knowest all things and each of them; and nothing 
remainelh hid from Thee in man's conscience. Before they are, 
thou knowesi that diey will be* and Thou needest not that any man 
teach Thee or admonish Thee concerning the diinga which are done 
upon the eyrth. Thou knowest what is expedient for my profit* and 
how greatly trouble serveth unto the scrubbing off die nisT of sin. 
Do \\ith me according 10 Thy desired good pleasure, and despise 
not my life which is full of siuj known to none so endrely and fully 
as to Thee alone. 

7. Grant me* O Lord, to know that which ought to be known; 
to love that which oughc to be loved; to praise that which pleaseth 
Thee most, to esteem ihat which is precious in Thy sight, to blame 
[hat which is vile in Thine eyes. Suffer me not to judge according to 
the sight of bodily eyes, nor to give sentence according (o the hear- 
ing of the ears of ignorant men; but to discern in true judgment 
between visible and spiritual things, and above all things to be ever 
seeking after the will of Thy good pleasure. 



320 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

8. Ofieniimes ihe senses of men are deceived m judging; [he lovers 
o£ the world also are deceived in that they love onSy visible things. 
What is 3 man better because by man he is reckoned very great? 
The deceiver deceiveth the deceiver^ rlie vain man the vain, the blind 
mnn the blind, the weak man the weak, when ihey exalt one an- 
other; sad in truth they railier puc to shame, while they foolishly 
praise. For as humble Si. Francis saith, "WhLii: each one is in Thine 
eyes, so much he is, and no more." 

CHAPTER LI 

THAT WE MUST OrTE OURSEL\TS TO HUMBLE WOEES WHEN WE ABE 
UNEQUAL TO THOSE THAT ABE LOFTV 

"Mv Son, thou arr nor always able to concinue in very fervent 
desire after virtues, nor to stand fast in the loftier region of con- 
templation; but thou must of necessity sometimes descend to lower 
things because of diine original corruption, and bear about the bur- 
den of corrupdhle life, though unwillingly and with weariness. So 
long as tliou wearest a mortal body, thou shalt feel weariness and 
heaviness of heart. Therefore ihou oughiest lo groan often in the 
fiesh because of the burden of the llesh, inasmuch as ihou canst not 
give thyself to spiritual studies and divine contemplation unteas- 
ingiy. 

2. "At such a time it is expedient for thee to flee to humble and 
iiKEernal works, and to renew thyself with good actions; to wail for 
My coming and heavenly visitation with sure confidence; to bear 
:hy exiTe and drought of mind with patience, until thou be visited 
by Me again, and be freed from all anxieties. For I will cause thee 
to forget thy labours, and altogether to enjoy eternal peace. I will 
spread open before thee the pleasant pastures of the Scriptures, that 
u'irh enlarged heart thou mayest begin lo run in the way of My 
commandments- And thou shalt say, 'Tfic su0crrrfgi of t/irj present 
ihiie arc not worthy to be coinpaied with the glory iwhich ihall be 
revealed in us' "' 

^EotiidJis viii. i^. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 321 

CHAPTER LH 

THAt \ MAX OUGHT KOT TO RECKON IJlMSELf WORTEiV OF C0N'5OLATI0Nj 

BUT MORE WORTHY Or CHASTlSEM&NT 

O Lord, I am not worthy of Thy consolation, nor of any spiritual 
visitation; and therefore Thou dealest justly with me, when Thou 
leavcst tne poor and desolate. For if I were able to pour forth tears 
hke the se3, still should I not be worthy of Thy consolation. There- 
fore am I nothing worthy save to be icotirged and punished, because 
I have grievously and m^ny a time offended Thec» and in many 
things have greatly sinned. Therefore, irue account being taken, 
I am not worthy even of the lease of Thy consolations. But Thou, 
gracious and merciful God, who wiliest not that Thy works should 
perish, to sliow forth the riches of Thy mercy upon the vessels of 
mercy/ vouchsafest even beyond all his own deserving, to comfort 
Thy servant above the measure of mankind. For Thy consolations 
are not like unto the discoursings of men. 

2. What h;ive 1 done, O Lord, that Thou shouldst bestow any 
hp^ivenly comfort upon me.^ I remember not that I have done any 
good, but have been ever prone to sin and slow to amendment. It 
is true and I cannot deny it. If 1 should say otherwise, Thou wouldsi 
rise up against me, and there ^vould be none to defend me. What 
have 1 deserved for my sins but hell and everlasting fire.;* In very 
truth I confess thaL 1 am worthy of all scorn and contempt, nor is it 
fit that I should be remembered among Thy faithful servants. And 
although 1 be unwilling to hear this, nevertheless I will for the 
Truth's sake, accuse myself of my sins, that ihe more readily I may 
prevail to be accounted worthy of Thy mercy. 

3. What shall I say, guilty that I am and filled with confusion? I 
have no mouth to utter, unless it be ihis word alone, "I have sinned, 
Lord, I have sinned; have mercy upon me, forgive me." Let m^ 
plane, that I may tn^e cornfort a little before I go whence I ihalf 
not return even to the land of dari{t!CSs and the shadoa/ of death} 
What dost Thou so much require of a guilty and miserable sinner, 
as that he be contrite, and humble himself for his sinsi^ In true con- 

^ Rcunans i^. 13. ^ Job x. 20. ai. 



322 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

irilion and humilialion of heart is begotten the hope of pardon, the 
troubled conscknce is reconcHedi lost grace is recovered^ a man is 
preserved from the wrath to come, and God and the penitent soul 
ha&tJ^n to meet e?ch other with a I'lolv kiss.^ 

4. The humble contrition of sinners h an acceptable sacrifice unto 
Thee, O Lord, sending forth a smell sweeter f^r in Thy sight than 
the incense- This also is tkit pleasani ointment which Thou wouldst 
have poured upon Thy sacred feet, for a bvolien and contrite heart 
Thou Isast nemr despised.^ There is the place of refuge from the 
wrathful countenance ot the enemy. There is amended and washed 
away whatsoever evil hath elsewhere been coniracced. 

CHAPTER Llli 

THAT THE GRACE Ot COD iXJTtI NOT JOIN ITSELl- TO THOSE WHO 

MIND EARTHLY TINNGS 

"My Son, precious is My grace, it suffereth not iiselE to be joined 
with outward things, nor with earthly consolations. Therefore thou 
oughtest to cast away all things which hinder grace, if thoa longest 
to receive the inpouring thereof. Seek a secret place for thyself, love 
to dwell alone with ihyself, desire the conversation of no one; but 
rather pour out thy devout prayer to God> that thou mayest possess 
a contrite mind and a pure conscience- Count ]he whole world as 
nought; seek to be alone with God before all outward things. For 
ihnu canst not be alone widi Me, and at the same time be delighted 
with transitory things. Thou oughtcst to be separated from thy 
acquaintances and dear friends, and keep thy mind free from all 
worldly comfort. So the bEessed Apostle Peter beseecheth^ that 
Christ's faithful ones bear themselves in this worki as strangers and 
pilgrims,' 

2. "Oh how great a confidence shall there be to the dying man 
whom no affection to anything detaineth in the world.* But lo have 
a heart so separated from all things, a sickly soul doth not yet compre- 
bend» nor doth the carnal man know the liberty of the spiritual 
man. But if indeed he desire to be spiritually minded, he must re- 
nounce both those who are far oJT, and those who are near, and to 
^Lukc XV, 20. ^Psjlm li. 17. M Pcier ii. 11^ 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 323 

bewate of no man more than himself. If thou perfectly conquer 
thyselfj very easily shaJi thou subdue all chings besides. Perfect 
victory is the triumph over oneself. For whoso keepeih himself in 
subjection, in such manner that ihe sensual affections obey the reason, 
and the reason in ;ill things obeyeth Me, he truly is conqueror of 
himself, and lord of the w-oild. 

3, "If thou desire to cljmb to this height, thou oughtest to start 
bravely, and to lay the axe to the root, to the end that thou mayest 
pull up and destroy the hidden inordinate inclination towards thy- 
self, and towards all selfish and eartlily good. From this sin, that 
a m;Ln lovcih himself loo inordinately, almost everything hangeth 
which ncedeth to be utterly overcome; when that evil is conquered 
and put under foot, there shall be great peace and tranquillity con- 
tinually. BuE because few strive earnestly to die perfectly to them- 
selves, and do not heartily go forth from themselves, therefore do 
they remain entangled in themselves, and cannot be raised in spirit 
above themselves. But he who desiretb to walk at liberty with Me, 
must of necessity mortify all his evil and inordinate affections, and 
must cling to no creature with selfish love." 

CHAPTER LIV 

OF THE DIVERSE MOTIONS OF N.^TLRE AND OF GRACE 

"Mv Son, pay diligent heed to the motions of Nature and of Grace, 
because they move in a very contrary and subtle manner, and are 
hardly distinguished save by a spiritual and inwardly enlightened 
man- All men indeed seek good, and make pretence of something 
good in all that they say or do; and thus under the appearance of 
good many are deceived. 

2. "Nature is deceitful and draweth away, ensnareih, and de- 
ceiveth many, and always hath self for her end; but Grace walketh 
in simplicity and lurneth away from every appearance of evil, makcth 
no false pretences. a[id doeth all entirely for the sake of God, in 
whom also she finally resteth. 

3. *'Nature is very unwilling to die, and to be pressed down, 
and to be overcome, and to be in subjection, and to bear the yoke 
readily; but Grace studieth self-mortification, resisteth sensuality, 



3^4 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

sceketh to be subdued, longcih to be conquered, and ivillcih not to 
use her own liberty. She loveih to be held by discipline, and noc (o 
have authoriiy over any, but alwjys to live, to remain, to have her 
being under God, :uid for God's sjke is ready lo be humbly subject 
to every ordinance of nun. 

4. "Nature labourech tor her own advantage, and considereih 
what profit sKe may gain from another; but Grace considcrcih morc^ 
not what msy be useful iuid tonvenient to self, but what may be 
profitable to the many^ 

5. "Nature willingly receiveih honour and reverence^ but Grvice 
faithfully ascribeth all honour ynd glory to God. 

6. "Nature feareth confusion iind contempt, but Grace rejoicetli 
to suffer shame for the name of Jesus. 

7. "Nature joveth ease and bodily quiet; Grace cannot be unem- 
ployed, but gladly embraceth labour. 

8. "Nature seekeih to possess things curious and attractive, and 
abhorreth those which are rough and cheap; Grace is delighted with 
things simple and humble, despiseth not those which are rough, nor 
refuseth to be clothed with old garments. 

9. "Nature hath regard le things temporal, rejoicelh in earthly 
lucre, is made sad by loss, vexed by any little injurious word; but 
Gr^ce redcheth after things eternal, eleaveth not to those which are 
temporal, is not perturbed by losses, nor embittered by any hard 
words, because she hath placed her treasure and joy in heaven where 
nought perisheih, 

TO. "Nature is covetous, and receiveih more willingly than she 
givethj loveth things that arc personal and private to herself; while 
Grace is kind and generous, avojdeih selfishness, is contented with a 
little, believeth that it is more bles.'ied to give than to receive. 

II. ^'Nature inclinoih thee to created things, to thme own fiesh, to 
vanities and dissipation; but Grace draweth to God and lo virtues, 
renounceth creatures, flceth from the world, hateth the desires o£ 
the llesh, resiraineth vagaries, blusheih to be seen in public, 

jz. *'Nature is glad to receive some outward solace in which the 
senses may have delight; hut Grace seekcth to be comforted in 
God alone, and to have delight in the chief good above all visible 
things* 



THE IMITATION OF CI-IRTST 525 

13. "Nature (locih everything for her own gain and prolil^ can do 
noching as a free favour^ but bopeih to attain something as good 
or better^ or some praise or favour for her bencfiisi and die lovcth 
that her own deeds and gift? should be highly valued; but Grace 
seekeih noihing temporal, nor requireth auy other gift of reward 
than God alone; neither longeth she for more of temporal necessi- 
liea than such as may siiflice for [he auaining of eternal life. 

14. "Nature rcjoiceth in many friends and kinsfolk, she hoasteth 
of noble place aiitl noble birth, she smileih on the powerful, flatter- 
e[h [he rich, applaudeth those who are like herself; but Grace loveth 
even her enemies^ and is noc lifted up by the miikitude of friends, 
setteih no stori^ upon high place or high birth, unless there be greater 
virtue therewith; favnurctb the poor m;in more than [he rich, haih 
more sympiiLhy with the innocent than with the powerful; rejoicech 
wL[h the truthful, not with the liar; always exhorreth the good to 
strive after better gifts of grace, and to become by holiness hke unto 
[he Son of God. 

15. "Nature quickly complaineth of poverty and of trouble; Grace 
beareth want with constancy. 

16. "Nature looketh upon all things in reference to herself; 
striverh and argueth for self; but Gr;jce bringeth hack all things Eo 
God from whom they came at the beginning; ascribed] no good to 
herself nor arrogantly presumeih; is not contentious^ nor preferreih 
her own opinion to others, but in every sense and understanding 
submicceth herself to the Eternal wisdom and the Divine judgmem. 

17. "Nature is eager to know secrets and [o hear new tilings; she 
loveth to appear abroad^ and to make experience of many things 
through the senses; she desireth to be acknowledged and to do those 
things which win praise and admiration; bat Grace careih noE to 

ather up new or curious things, because all this springeth from the 
old corruption, whereas there is nothing new or lasting upon earth. 
So she leacheth to restrain the senses, to shun vain complacency and 
ostentation, to hide humbly those thing:; which mcriE praise and real 
admiration, and from everything and in all knowledge to seek after 
useful fruit, and the praise and honour of God. She desireth not to 
receive praise for herself or her own, but longeth that God be blessed 
in all His gifts, xvho out of unmingled love besioweth ail things.'* 






326 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

[8. This Grace is a aupeniatur^l light, and a ceiiain special gift 
of God^ and the propCE mark o£ the elect, and the pledge of eternal 
salvation; ii: exaheih a man from c^rrhly things to ]ovc those that are 
heavenly; and it makefh the carnal man spititnaL So far therefore 
OS N^ilure is utterly pressed down snd overcome, so far is greater 
Grace hestowcd and die inner man is daily created anew by fresh 
visitntionsi after the image o£ God. 

CHAPTER LV 

OF THE COBEUPTIOX Of SATUPE AND TlIF. EFFICACY OF DIVINE GRACE 

O LopD my God, who hast created me after thine own image and 
similitude, grant me this grace^ which Thou hast shown to be so 
great and -so necessary for salvation, that I may conquer my wicked 
nature, which drawcth me to sin and to perdition. For 1 feel in my 
flesh the law of sin, contradicting the law of my mind, and bringing 
me into captivity to the obedience of sensuality in many things; nor 
can 1 resist irs passions, unless Thy most holy grace assise me, fer- 
vendy poured into my heart. 

2. There is Eieed of Thy grace, yea, and of a great measure thereof, 
that my nature may be conquered, whkh hath alway been prone 
to evil from my youth. For being fallen through the first man Adam, 
and corrupted through sin, the punishment of this stain descended 
upon all men; so ihac Nature itself, which was framed good and 
fight by Thee, is now used to express the vice and infirmity of cor- 
rupted Nature; because ils motion left unto itself draweth men away 
to evil and to lower things. For the litde power which remaineih 
is as it were one spark lying hid in the ashes. This is Natural reason 
itself, encompassed with thick clouds, having yet a discernment of 
good and evil, a distinction of the true and the false, though it be 
powerless to fulfil all that it approveth, and possess not yet the full 
light of truth, nor healthfulncss of its affections. 

3. Hence it is, O my God, that / delight in Thy law ajter the 
inti^ard Ttian} knowing thai Thy cojrtfnandmeni i$ holy and jmi and 
g'ood; reproving also all evil, and the sin that is to be avoided: yec 
u/it/i the flesh I serve the Ian/ of sin. whilst I obey sensuality rather 

' Romans vri. 12, 22. ??, 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 327 

than reason. Hence ic is thai to will to do good is present smtk ine, 
but kow to perform it I find not.^ Hence I ofilimes purpose many 
good things; bu: because grace is lacking to help mine infirmitieST 
I fall back bebre 3 little resistance and faiL Hence it cumeth co pass 
that I recognise the way of perfeciness and see very clearly what 
things i ought to do; but pressed down by the weight of my oWQ 
corruption^ I rise not to the things which are more perfect. 

4. Oh how entirely necessary is Thy grace to me» O Lord, fof a 
good beginning* for progress, and for bringing lo perfection. For 
without it I can do nothings but / can do all things through Thy 
grace which strengtkeneth m<r} O truly heavenly grace, without 
which our own merits are nought, and no gifts of Nature at all are 
to be esteemed. Arts, riches^ beauty, strength, wit, eloquence, they 
all avail nothing before Thee, O Lord, without Thy grace. For the 
gifts o£ Nature belong to good and evil alike; but the proper gift 
of the elect is grace — that is, love — and they who bear the mark 
thereof are held worthy of everlasting life. So mighty is this grace, 
that without it neither the gift of prophecy nor the working o£ 
miracles, nor any speculation, howsoever lofty, is of any value at alU 
But neither faith, nor hope, nor any other virtue is accepted with 
Thee v/ithout love and grace, 

5, O most blessed grace that makest the poor in spirit rich in 
virtues, and rendere&t him who is rich in many things humble in 
spirit, come Thou, descend upon me, fill me early with Thy conso- 
lation, lest my soul fail through weariness and drought of mind. 1 
beseech thee, O Lord, that 1 may find grace in Thy sight, for Thy 
grace is sufficient for mc* when 1 obtain not tho5^ things which 
Nature longeth for. If I be tempted and vexed with many tribula- 
tions, I will fear no evil, while Thy grace remaineth with me. This 
alone is my strength, this bringeth me counsel and help. It is more 
powerful than all enemies, and wiser than all the wise men in 
the world. 

G. It is the mistress of truth, the teacher of disciphne, the light of 

the heart, the solace of anxiety, the banisher of sorrow, the deliverer 

from fear, the nurse of devotion, the drawer forth of tears. What am 

1 without it, save a dry tree, a useless branch, worthy to be cast awayl 

^RomaQi viL iS. ^ Philippian^ iv. 13, *z CoriDChiar;; xii. 9, 



328 THE IMITATION OF CHKIST 

"Let Thy grace* tbcirefore, O Lord* always prevent and follow me» 
and make me coniinuiiJIy given to all good works, through Jesus 
Chrisi:, Thy Son, Ameii/' 



CHAPTER LVl 

TIIAT WE OUPUT TO DENV OLHSELVES, AND TO JMITATE ClifUST BY 

MEANS Of THE CROSS 

My Son, so far as (bou air alile to go out oE thyself so far shak 
thou be able 10 enter inco Me, As to desire no ouEwaid thing work- 
eih internal peace» so the forsaking of self inw;irdly joineth unio God. 
J will that thoxi learn perfect self-deniah living in My will without 
contradiction or complaint. Follow Me: / am the way, the truth, 
and thclijc^ Without the wjy thou canst not go, without the truth 
thou canst not know* without the lifi: thou canst not live. 1 am the 
Way which thou oughtest to foltow; the Truth which thou oughtest 
10 bcheve; the Life which thou oughtcst to hope for. 1 am the Way 
unchangeablej the Truth infallible; ihe Life everlasting, I am the 
Way altogether straight, the Truth supreme, the true Life, the blessed 
Life, the uncreated Life. If thou remain in My way thou shalt know 
the Truth, and the truth shall ma/{^ thee free^ :ind thou shalt lay 
hold on eternal life. 

2. "If thou wilt enter iulo life, keep the command nients} If thou 
wilt know the truth* believe in Me. // thou mlt be perfect, sell alt 
that thou hast. If thou will be My disciple, deny thyself. If thou 
wouldst possess [he blessed life* despise the life which now is. If 
thou wilt be e>ralted in heaven, humble thyself in the world. If thou 
wilt reign wirh Me, bear the cross with Me; for only the servants 
of the cross find the way of blessedness and of true light." 

3. O Lord Jesu* forasmuch as Thy life was straitened and de- 
spised by the world, grant unto me to imitate Thee in despising the 
worldj for the sereant is not greater than his lord, nor the disciple 
above his master* Let Thy servant be e:iercised in Thy life* because 
there is my salvation and true holiness. Whatsoever J read or hear 
besides it* it refresheth me not, nor giveth me delight. 



THE IlvUTATION OF CHRIST 329 

4. "My son, beCiiuse ibou knovvost these things and hasi read ihem 
all» blessed shalt shou be if thou doc&t them. He ivho hath My com' 
mandmenti and !ieepeth tAenJ, he it i: that tofclh Mc, and I will love 
him, and ifiU manifest Myself to him^ and I will make him to sit 
down with Me in My Father's Kingdom." 

5. O Lord Jesu, as Thou hasr said and promised, even so let it be 
unto me, and grant me lo prove uonhy, I have received the cross at 
Thy hjnd; I have carried it, acid will tarry it even unto death, as 
Thou hast lajd it upon me. Truly the life of a truly devoted servant 
is a cross^ but ii leadedi to paiadise. 1 have begun; I may not return 
back nor leave it. 

6. Come, my brothers. Jet us together go forward. Jesus shall be 
with us. For Jesus' sake have we taken up [his cross, for Jesus' sake 
let us persevere in the cross. He will be our helper, who was our 
Captain and Forerunner. Behold our King entereth in before uSj 
and He will light for us. Let us follow bravely, let no man fear 
[errors; let us be prepared to die bravely in battle, and let us not io 
stain our honour^ as to fly from the cross, 

CHAPTER LVII 

THAT K MAN ^tUST NOT BE TOO >TUCir CAST UOWN WIIEN iTZ 
F^LLETH IXTO SOME FAULTS 

"My SoOj patience and humility in adversities are more pleasing 
to Me than much comfort and devotion in prosperity. Why doth a 
litde thing spoken against thee make ihee sad."* If it bad been more, 
thou still oughtest not to be moved. But now suiter it to go by^ it 
is not the first, it is not new, and it will not be the lastj if thou live 
long. Thou art brave enough, so long as no adversity meeteth thee. 
Thou givest good counsel also, and knowest how to strcngiheii 
others with thy words; but when tribulation suddenly knocketh at 
thine own door, thy counsel and strength faiL Consider ihy great 
fraiky, which thou dost so often experience in trifhng mariers never- 
theless^ for thy soul's health these things are done when they and 
such like hiippen unto thee. 



33*^ THE IMITATION OF CHSIST 

2. "Pui [hem away £rom thy heart ,15 well as ihou canst, and if 
uihuUuuu haih touched thee, yet let it not cast thee down nor en- 
tangle thee long. At the least, bear patiently, if thou canst not joy- 
fdly. And although Lhou be very unwiUing to hear it, .ind feel indig- 
narlun, yet check thyself, and suffer no nnadvised word to come 
forth trom thy lips, whereby the little ones may be oJTended. Soon 
the storm which hath been raised shall be stilled, and inward grief 
shall be sweetened by returning grace, I yet live, saith the Lord, 
ready to help thee, and to give thee more than wonted consolation 
if thou put thy trust in Me, and call devoutly upon Me. 

3. "Be thou more cilm of spirit, and gird thyself for grearer endur- 
ance. All is not frustrated, though thou find thyself very often 
afflicted or gcievously tempted. Thou art n\an, not God; lhou art 
Hesh, not an angel. How shouldsi thou be able to remain alway in 
[he same slate of virtue, when an angel in heaven fell, and the first 
man in paradise? I am He who lifieth up the mourners to deliver- 
ance, and those who know their own infirmity I raise up to mj' 



own nature." 



4. O Lord, blessed be Thy word, s^vcetec to my mouth than 
honey and the honeycomb. What should I do in my so great tribu- 
lations and anxieties, unless Thou didst comfort me with Thy holy 
words? If only I may attain unto the haven of salvatiott, what mat- 
ter is it what things or how many I suffer? Give me a good end, 
give me a happy passage out of this world. Remember me, O my 
God> and lead me by the right way unto Thy Kingdom. Amen. 



CHAPTER Lvni 

Oe riEtPF,R MMTEHS, AND GODS HIDDEN yVDCMENTS WHICH APE 

NOT TO BE INQUlRtD t:^TQ 

"My Son, beware thou dispute not of high matters and of the 
hidden judgments of God; why this man is thus left^ and that man 
is taken into so grea[ favour; why also this man is so greatly alllicEedi 
and that so highly exalted. These things pass all man's power of 
judging* neither may any reasoning or disputation have po^ver tO' 
search out the divine judgments. When therefore the enemy sug-; 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 33I 

gesieth these things la ihec, or when any curious people ask such 
questions, answer with thai word of the Prophet, Just an Thou, O 
Lord, and trui is Thy judgment.^ and with ihis» The judgmsiits of 
th^ Lord are true, and righteous ahogetho^ My judgments are to 
be feared, not to be disputed on, because they are incomprehensible 
to human understanding. 

2. "And be not given to inquire nr dispute abnuE the merits of 
the Saints, which is hoUcr than another, or whith is the greater in 
the Kingdom of Heaven. Such questions often bogei useless suites 
and contentions: ihey also nourish pride and vain giory^ wheiice 
cnvyitigs and dissensions arise, while one man arrogantly endeav- 
oureth to e>:ali one Saint and another another, liul to wish 10 know 
and search out such things bringeth no fruit, but it rather displeaseth 
the Saints; for 1 am not the God of confusion but of peace;^ which 
peace consisteth more in true humility than in self-exduiion, 

3. "Some are drawn by zeal of love to greater affection to these 
Saints or those; but this is human alTection rather than divine. I am 
He Who made all the SaioCs: I gave them grace, 1 brought them 
glory; 1 know the merits of every one; / prevented them mth the 
bleiiings of My goodness.^ I i^oreknew my beloved ones from ever- 
lasting, / chose them out of the ic-orid;'' they did not choose Me, I 
called them by My grace, dreiv them by My mercy, led them on 
through sundry temptations, I poured mighty consolations upon 
ihem, I gave ihem perseverance, 1 crowned their patience. 

4. "I acknowledge the first and the Tast; I embrace all with in- 
estimable love. I am 10 be praised in all My Saints; I am to be blessed 
above all things, and to be honoured in every one whom I have so 
gloriously exalted and predestined, without any preceding merits of 
their own. He therefore that shall despise one of the least of these 
My people, honoureth not the great; because 1 made both small 
and great.'' And he who spsaketh against any of My Saints speaketh 
against Me, and against all others in the Kingdom of Heaven." 

They are all one through the bond of charity; they think the 
same thing, will the same things and all are united in love one to 
another. 

^Psalm i^m. 117. 'pMlm xh. 5. ^ Corimhiani xiv. 33. 

*Psjlm iLxi. 3. 'John xv. ig, *Wiid. vi. a. 



^^2 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

5. "But yet (whrch is far better) they love Me above themselves 
and their own merits. For being caught up above Themselves, and 
drawn beyond self-love, they go iill straightforwnrtl to the love oi 
Me. and they rest in Me in perfect enjoyment. There is nothing 
which can turn ihem away or press them down; foe being full o' 
Eternal Truih^ [hey burn with the fire of inextinguish,ible chariry. 
Therefore let all carnal and natural men hold their peace concern 
ing [he state of the Saints, for they know nothing save [o love their 
own personal enjoyment. They Lake away and add according to their 
own inclination^ not as it pleaseth tl:e Eternal Truth. 

6. "In many men this is ignorance, chiefly is it so rn those who, 
being little enlightened, rarely learn to love any one with perfect 
spiritual love. They are still much drawn by natural aflection and 
human frierjdship to these or to those: and as they reckon of them 
selves in lower mnrters, so al:;o do [hey frame imaijinations of things 
heavenly. But there is an immeasurable difference between those 
things which they imperfectly imagine* and these things which 
enlightened men behold through supernatural revelation. 

7. ''Take heed, therefore, My son, that ihou irea[ not curiously 
those things which surpass thy knowledge* but rather make this thy 
business and give attention to it, namely, that thou seek [o be fou[id, 
even though it be [he least, in tlie Kingdom of God. And even if 
any one should know who were holier than o[hers, or who were held 
greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven; what should that knowledge 
profit him, unless through this knowledge he should humble him- 
self before Me, and should rise up to give greater praise unto My 
name? He who considereth how great are his own sins, how small 
his virtues, and how far he is removed from the perfection of the 
Saints, doeth far more acceptably in the sight of Cod. than he who 
dispuieth about their greatness or httleness. '] 

8- "They are altogether well content, if men would learn to be 
content* and to refrain from vain babbling- They glory not of their 
own merits, seeing they ascribe no good unto themselves, but all unto 
Me, seeing that I of my infinite charily have given them all things. 
They are IiHed with so great love of the Divinity, and with such" 
overflowing joy, that no glory is lacking to them, neither can any 
felicity be lacking. All [he Saints, the higher they are exalted in 



THE IMITATION OF CtlKIST 333 

glory^ the humbler are they in themselves, and the nearer and dearer 
are they unto Me. And so thou hasi it written that they cast their 
crowns bcEore God and fell on their faces before the Lamb, and 
worshipped Him that Uveth for ever and everJ 

9- "Many ask who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, who 
know not whether they shall be worthy to be counted among the 
least. It is a great thing to be even the least in Heaven, where all 
are great, because all shall be called, and shall be, the sons o£ God- 
A little one skail become a thousand, but the sinner being an hun- 
dred years old shall he accursed. For when the disciples asked who 
should be the greatest in the Kingdom oj Hcai/en, they received nO 
other answer than [his, Except ye be converted and become as little 
chitdrejj, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom oj Heaven. But u/ho- 
soeuer shall humble himself as this little child, the same shall be 
greatest in the Kingdom of Heat/en."^ 

10. Woe umo them, who disdain to humble themselves willingly 
with the little children; for the low gate of the kingdom of Heaven 
will not suffer them to enter in. Woe also to them who are richj who 
have their consolation here^ because whilst the poor enter into 
the kingdom of God, they shall stand lamenting without. Rejoice 
ye humble, and exuk ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God if 
only ye walk in the truth. 

CHAPTER LIX 

THAT ALL ITOPE AND TRUST IS TO BE FIXED IN GOD ALONE 

O Lord, what is my trust which 1 have in this life, or what is Tiiy 
greatest comfort of all the things which are seen under Heaven? 
Is it not Thou, O Lord my God, whose mercies are without num- 
ber? Where hath it been well with me without Thee? Or when 
could it be evil whilst Thou were near? 1 had rather be poor for 
Thy sake, than rich without Thee. 1 choose rather to be a pilgrim 
upon the earth with Thee than without Thee to possess heaven. 
Where Thou art, there is heaven; and where Thou are not, behold 
there death and hell- Thou art all my desire, and therefore must 
I groan and cry and earnestly pray after Thee. In short I can con- 

'Rtvi'ruion iv, IQ3 v. i^. ^M^ichcw xvjii. 3, * iPhilippians ii. ii. 



334 THE IMITATION OF CtiRlST 

fide iuUy in none to give Tne ready hdp in necessities, save in Thee 
alone, O my God, Thou art my hope, Thou art my trust, Thou art 
my Comforter, and mas: faithful In all things. 

2. Alt men seef{ their own;^ Thou settest forward only my salva- 
tion and my ptofitj and turnest all things unto my good. Even 
tliough Tliou dost expose me lo divers temptations and adversities. 
Thou ordainest all this unto my advantage, for Thou are wont to 
prove Thy beloved ones in a thousand ways. In which proving Thii^ 
oughtest no less to be loved and praised, than if Thou wert filling me 
full of heavenly consolations. 

3. In Thee, therefore, O Lord God, 1 put all my hope and my 
refuge, on Thee 1 lay all my tribulation and anguish; because I find 
all to be weak and unstable whatsoever I behold out of Thee. Foi 
many friends shall not profit, nor strong helpers be able to succour, 
nor prudent counsellors to give a useful answer, nor the hooks of the 
learned to console, nor any precious substance lo deliver, nor any 
secret and beautiful place to give shelter, if Thou Thyself do not 
a^rst, help, strengthen, conifort, instruct, keep in safety. 

4. For all things which seem to belong to the attainment of peace 
and felicity are nothing when Thou art absent, and bring no felicity 
at all in reality. Therefore art Thou the end of all good, and the 
fulness of Life, and the soul of eloquence; and to hope in Thee above 
all things is the strongest solace of Thy servants. Mine eyes loofiiinio 
Thee} in Thee is my trust, O my God, Father of merciCsS- 

5. Bless and sanctify my soul with heavenly blessing that it may 
become Thy holy habitation, and the seat of Thy eternal glory; and 
let nothing be found in the Temple of Thy divinity which may 
offend the eyes of Thy majesty. According to the greatness of Thy 
goodness and the multitude of Thy mercies look upon me, and hear 
the prayer of Thy poor servant, far exiled from Thee in the land of 
the shadow of death. Protect and preserve the soul of Thy least 
servant amid so many dangers of corruptible life, and by Thy grace 
accompanying me, direct it by the way of peace unto its home of 
perpetual linht. Amen. 



THE FOURTH BOOK 

OF THE SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR 

A DEVOUT EXHORTATION TO THE HOLV COMMUNfO^ 

The Voice of Christ 

Corns unto Mc. ell ye that labour and ate heavy laden, and I will refresh 
you^ saith the Lord- The bread that I will give is My fleih which I giire 
for the life of the world} Tai^e, eat: this is My Body, which is given for 
you; this do in yemcnsbrance of Me? Hs that eateth My fiesh and drini^- 
eth My blood dwdUth in Me and I in him. The ttrords that I spea^ 
unto you, they are spirit, end they are life.* 

CHAPTER r 

WITH HOW GREAT REVERENCE CHBEST MVSr BE RECEIVED 

The Voice of the Discipie 

THESE are Thy words, O Christ, Eternal Truth; though 
DOE uttorcd a: one time nor wriLEen together in one place 
of Scripture, Because therefore they are Thy words and 
true, I must gratefully and faithfully receive them all. They are 
Thine, and Thou hast uttered them; and ihey are mine also, be- 
cause Thou didat spcjik them for my salvation. Gladly 1 receive theni 
from Thy mouthy that they may be more deeply implanted in ray 
heart. Words of such great grace arouse me, for they are full of 
sweetness and love; but my own sins terrify me, and my impure 
conscience dnveth me away from receiving so great mysteries. The 
sweetness of Thy words encourageth me, but the multitude of my 
faults presseth me down. 

2. Thou commandest that 1 draw near to Thee with firm confi- 
dence, if I would have part with Thee, and that I receive the food 

^Maiihtiw ai. iS. ^John v\. 51, ^ MatiEiev mL 26; Luke xKa. 19. 

*Johji vi- %\. 6j. 

335 



336 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

of iTumorialiiy, if 1 deiire to obiain eternal life and glory. Cotrtff unto 
Me, sayest Thou, di thm labour and are heavy laden, and I u'ili 
refreili yon. Oh, sweet and lovely word in the car of eHg sinner, [hat 
Thou, O Lord my God, dost invite the poor and needy to the Com- 
munion of Thy most hoJy body and blood. I3uc who am I, O Lord, 
thaE I should presume to approach umo Thee? Behold tlie heai/cn oj 
heavens cannot contain Thee, and yet Thou sayest, Cotne ye all 
unto Me. 

3. What meancth this mosE gracious condescension, diis most 
lovely inviraiion? How shall I dare 10 come, who know no good 
thing of myself, whente I might be able to presume? How shall 1 
bring Thee within my house, seeing rhat 1 so often have sinned in 
Thy most loving sight? Angels and Archangels stand in awe of 
Thee, the Saints and just men fear Thee, and Thou sayest, Come 
unto Mel Except Thou, Lord, hadst said it, who should believe it 
irue? And except Thou hadst commanded, who should attempt to 
draw near? 

^. Beholdj Noah, thac just man, laboured Eor a hundred years in 
building the ark, that he might be saved with the few; and 1, how 
shall I be able in one hour to prepare myself to receive the liuilder 
of the world with reverence? Moses, Thy servant, Thy great and 
especial friend, made an ark of incorruptible wood, which also he 
covered with purest gold, that he might lay up in i: the tables ol 
the law, and I, a corruptible creature, shah I dare thus easily to 
receive Thee, the Maker of the Law and the Giver of life? Solomon, 
[he wisest of the kings of Israel, was seven years building his mag- 
nificent temple to the praiie of Thy Name, and for eight days cele- 
brated the feast of its dedication, offered a thousand peace offerings, 
and solemnly brought up the Ark of the Covenant to the place pre- 
pared for it, with the sound of trumpets and great joy, and 1, un- 
happy and poorest of mankind, how shall I bring Thee into my 
house, who scarce know how to spend half an hour in devotion? 
And oh that it were even one half hour worthily spent! 

5. O my God, how earnestly these holy men strove to please Theel 
And alasf how htde and trifling is that which ! dof how short a 
time do 1 spend, when I am disposing myself to Communion. Rarely 
altogether collected, most rarely cleansed from all distractiori> And 



i 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 337 

surely in the saving presence of Thy Godhead no unmeet thoughc 
OiJghr to intrude, nor should any creature lake possession of me, 
because ii is not an Angel but the Lord o£ the Angels^ that 1 am 
abouE to receive as my Guest, 

6. Yet there is a vifst difference between the Ark of the Covenant 
with iis relics, and Thy most pure Body with its ineilable virtues, 
between those sacritices of the law, which were figures of things to 
come* and the true sacrifice of Thy Body, the completion of all the 
ancient sacrifices. 

7. Wherefore then do I not yearn more ardently after Thy ador- 
able presence? Why do 1 noc prepare myself with greater solicitude 
to receive Thy holy things, when those holy Patriarchs and Prophets 
o£ old, kings also and princes, with the ivliole people, manifested so 
great affection of devotion towards Thy Divine Service? 

8. The most devout king David danced with all his might before 
the Ark o£ God, calling to mind the benefits granted to his fore- 
f-ithers in days pasE; he fashioned musical instruments of various 
sorts, put forth Psalms, and appointed them to be sung with joy, 
played aUo himself ofltimes on the harp, being inspired wiLh the 
grace of the Holy Ghost; he taught the people of Israel to praise 
God with the whole heart, and with unity o£ voice to bless and 
praise Him every day. If so great devotion was then exercised, and 
celebration of divine praise was carried on before the Ark of the 
Testimony, how great reverence and devotion ought now to be 
shown by me and ah Christian people at the ministering o£ the Sacra- 
ment, at receiving the most precious Body and Blood of Christ. 

9. Many run to diverse places to visit the memorials of departed 
Saints, and rejoice to hear of their deeds and to look upon the beauti- 
ful buildings of their shrines. And behold, Thou art present here 
with me, O my God, Saint of Saints, Creator of men and Lord of 
the Angela. Often in looking at those memorials men arc moved 
by curiosity and novelty, and very httle fruit of amendment is borne 
away, especially when there is so much careless trifling and so little 
true contrition. But here in the Sacrament of the Altar, Thou art 
present altogether, My God, the Man Christ fesus; where also abun- 
dant fruit of eternal life ts given to every one soever that receiveth 
Thee worthily and devoudy. But to this no levity drawcth, no curi- 



338 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

osiiy» nor ientuality, only stendfast faith, devout hope, and sincere 
charily, 

10. O God» invisible Creator of the world, how wondrously dost 
Thou work wiih ui, how sweetly and graciously Thou dealest with 
Thine elect, to whom Thou oJTeiest Thyself to be received in this 
Sacrament! For this surpasseth ail understanding, this specially 
draweih the hearts of the devout and cnkindleth thetr affections. For 
even thy true faithful one^ themselves, who order their whole life to 
amendment, oftentimes gain from this most excellent Sacrament 
great grace of devotion and love of virtue. 

11. Oh admirable and hidden graccr of the Sacrament, which on!y 
Christ's faithful ones know, but ihe faithless and those who serve sin 
cannot experience! In this Sacrament is conferred sph:itual grace, 
and lost virtue is regained in the soul, and the beauty which was 
disfigured by sin returneih again. So great sometimes is this grace 
that out of the fulness of devotion given, not only the mind but also 
the weak body feeleih that more strength is supplied unto it. 

12. But gready must we mourn and lament over our lukewarm' 
ness and negligence, that we are not drawn by greater alfeciion to 
become partakers of Christ, in whom ail the hope and the merit of 
those ihat are to be saved consist. For He Himself is our sanctifica- 
tion and redemption} He is the consolation of pilgrims and the 
eternal fruition of the Saints. Therefore it is grievously to be la- 
mented that many so litde consider this health-giving mystery, which 
maketh heaven glad and preserveth the whole world. Alaa for the 
blindness and hardness of man's heart, that he considereth not more 
this unspeakable gift, and even slippeth down through the daily 



use, into carefessness. 



13. For if this most holy Sacrament were celebrated in one place 
only, and were consecrated only by one priest in the whole world, 
with what great desire tbinkest thou, would men be affected towards 
that place and towards such a priest of God, that they might behold 
the divine mysteries celebrated? But now are many men made 
priests and in many places the Sacrament is ceTebrated, that the grace 
and love of God towards men might the more appear, the more 
widely the Holy Communion is spread abroad over all the world- 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 339 

Thanks be unto Thee, O good Jesus, Eternal Shepherd, who hast 
vouchsafed to refresh us^ poor and exiled ojies» wuh Thy precious 
Body and Blond, and to invue us to partake these holy mysteries 
by the inviiation from Thine own mouch, saying* Come unio Me^ 
ys who lahouT and are heavy laden, and I will rejresh you. 

CHAPTER Tl 

THAT THE GK£ATNESS ANO CHAEITV OF GOD \i SHOWN TO MEN 

IN THE SACRAMENT 

The Voice of the Disciple 

TnusTiS'G in Thy goodness and great mercy, O Lord, I draw near, 
the sick lo ihe Heeler, the hungering and thirsting lo the Founiain 
'A h£e, the povcrty-stTickcn to the King of heaven, the servant to the 
Lord) the creature to ihe Creator, the desolate to my own gentle 
Comforter, But whence is this unto me, that Thou comest unEu me? 
Who am I that Thou shouldesi offer me Thyself? How doth a 
sinner dare to appear before Thee? And how dost thou vouchsafe 
[0 eome to the sinner? Thou knowest Thy servant, and Thou 
knowest that he hath in him no good ihing for which Thou should- 
&st grant him this grace. I confess therefore mine own vilencss, 1 
acknowledge Thy goodness, I praise Thy tenderness, and 1 give Thee 
thanks for Thine exceeding great love. For Thou doest this for 
Thine own sake, not for my merits^ that Thy goodness may be more 
manifest unto me. Thy charity more abundantly poured out upon 
me, and Thy humihty more perfecdy commended unto me. There- 
Fore because this plcascth Thee and Thou hast commanded that thus 
it shall be, Thy condescension pleaseth me also; and oh that mine 
iniquity hinder it not. 

2. O most sweet and tender Jesus, what reverence, what giving 
of thanks is due to Thee with perpetual praise for the receiving of 
Thy sacred Body and Blood, the dignity whereof no man is found 
^ble to express. But what shall I think upon in this Communion m 
approaching my Lord, whom I am not able worthily to honour, 
and nevertheless whom 1 long devoudy to receive? What shall be 
better and more healthful meditation for me, than utter humiliation 



340 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

of myself before Thcc, and exaltation of Thine infinite goodness 
towards me? I praise Thee» O my God» and exalt Thee for ever- 
more. 1 despise myself, and cast myself dowa before Thee Into the 
deep of my vileness. 

3. liehold, Thou arl the SainE of saints and I the refuse of sinners; 
behold, Thou stoopest unto me who am not worthy to look upon 
Theej behold, Thou comest unto me, Thou wiliest lo be with me, 
Thou inviccst me to Thy fe^isr. Thou wiliest to give me the heavenly 
food and bread of angels Co cat; none other, in truth, than Thyself, 
TAi- Hiring bread. H'hkh didst descend jrorn heaifsn; and givest life 
to the world} 

4. iJehokl, whence this love proceedeth! what manner of con- 
descension shineth fonh herein. What great giving of ihanks and 
praise is due unto Thee for these benefits! Oh how salutary and 
profitable Thy purpose when Thou didst ordain thisl How sweet 
and pleasant the feast when Thou didst give Thyself for foodf Oh 
how admirable is thy working, O Lord, how mighty Thy power, 
how unspeakable Thy truth! For Thou didst speak the word, 
and all things were made; and this is done which Thou hast com- 
manded. 

5. A thing wonderful, and worthy of faiih^ and surpassing all the 
understanding of man, that Thou, O Lord my God, very God and 
very man* givesi Thyself altogeiher to us in a little bread and win^ . 
and art so our inexhaustible food. Thou* O Lord of all, who hast 
need of nothing, hast willed to dwell in us through Thy Sacrament. 
Preserve my heart and my body undefiled, that with a joyftil and 
pure conscience I may be able very often to [celebrate, and]^ receive 
10 my perpetual health. Thy mysteries* which Thou hast consecrated 
and instituted both for Thine own honour* and for a perpetual 
memorial. . 

6. Rqoice, O my soul, and give thanks unto God for so great a 
gift and precious consolation, left unto thee in this vale of tears. 
For so oft as thou callest this mystery to mind and receivest the body 
of Christ, so often dost thou celebrate the work of thy redemption, 
and art made partaker of all the merits of Christ, For the charity of 
Christ never groweth less, and the greatness of His propitiation 

'John vi. 51. ^TJit wiinJs in bracketi are unly tiiiiablc fcbf a pruat. 



I 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 34I 

never exhausted- ThereEorc, by contiJiual renewal of ihy spirit, thou 
oughcest to dispose rhyselE hereunto and to weigh the great mystery 
of salvjuon with attendve consideration. So greats new, and joyful 
ought it to appear to thee wheri ihou comest to communion, as if on 
this self-same day Christ for [he first time were descending into the 
Virginia womb and becoming man, or hanging on the cross, suffer- 
ing and dying for die salvation of mankind. 

CHAPTER III 

TITAT IT IS PROriTABLE TO CO M ^ f L \ IC ATE OFTE>J 

The Voice of the Disciple 

Behold I come unio Thee, O Lord, that I may be blessed through 
Thy gift, and be made joyful in Thy holy feast which Thou, O Cod, 
of Thy goodness hast prepared for the poor} Behold in Thee is all 
that 1 can and oughc to desire. Thou art my salvation and rcdemp- 
tionj my hope and strength, my honour and glory. Therefore rejoice 
the soul of Thy seri/ant this day, for unto Thee, O Lord Je^us, do I 
lift up 7ny soul} I long now to receive Thee devoutly and rever- 
ently, I desire to bring Thee into my house^ so that with Zaccha^us 
1 may be counted worthy to be blessed by Thee and numbered 
among the children of Abraham. My soul hath an earnest desire 
for Thy Body, my heart longeih to be united with Thee. 

2, Give me Thyself and it sufficeth, for besides Thee no consola- 
tion avaiieth. Without Thee 1 cannot be, and without Thy visitation 
I have no power to live. And therefore I must needs draw nigh 
unto Thee often, and receive Thee for the healing of my soul, lest 
haply 1 faint by the way if I be deprived of heavenly food. For so 
Thou, most merciful Jesus, preaching to the people and healing 
many sick, didst once say, / u^iU not send ihem away fasting to their 
oii/n hoTttcs, lest shey faint by the way. Deal therefore now to me 
in like manner, for Thou left Thyself for the consolation of the 
faithful in the Sacrament. For Thou art ihe sweet refreshment of 
the soul, and he who shall eat Thee worthily shall be partaker and 
inheritor of the eternal glory. Necessary indeed it is for me, who so 
'P^alm l:iv-iii, 10. ' Psalm Ixxxv'L 4. ^Maithew jjv. 32. 



34^ THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

often slide backwards and sin, so quickly wax cold and faint, to 
lencw, cleanse, enkindle myself by frequent prayers and penitences 
and receiving of Thy sacred Body ind Blood lesc haply by too long 
abstinence, I fall short of my holy resolutions. 

3. For the imaginations of man's heart are eiril from his youth* 
snd except divine medicine succour him, man slideih away con- 
tinually unto the worse. The Holy Communion therefore drawetb 
us back from evil, and sireng[heneth us for good. For if I now be 
so negligent and lukewarm when I communicate [or celebrate], 
how should it be with me, if 1 receive not this medicine, and sought 
not so great a help? [And though I am not every day fit nor well 
prepared to celebrate, I will nevertheless give diligent heed at due 
season, CO receive the divine mysteries, and to become partaker of 
so great grace]. For ihrs is the one principal consolation of a faithful 
soul, so long as it is absent from Thee in mortal body* that being 
continually mindful of its God, it receivcth its Beloved with devout 
spirit, 

4. Oh wonderful condescension of Thy pity surrounding us, that 
Thou, O Lord God, Creator and Quickener of all spirits, deignest 
to come unto a soul so poor and weak, and to appease its hunger 
with Thy whole Deity and Humanity. Oh happy mind and blessed 
50ul, to which IS granted devoutly to receive Thee its Lord God^ 
and in so receiving Thee to be filled with all spJriLual joy! Oh how 
great a Lord doth it entertain, how beloved a Guest doth it bring in, 
how delightful a Companion doth it receive, how faithful a Friend 
doth it welcome^ how beautiful and exalted a Spouse, above every 
other Beloved, doth it embrace. One to be loved above all things 
that can be desired! Oh my most sweet Beloved, let heaven and 
earth and all the glory of them, be silent in Thy presence; seeing 
whatsoever praise and beauty they have it is of Thy gracious bounty^ 
and they shall never reach unto the loveliness ot Thy Name, Whose 
Wiidom is infinite.^ 

* Gen«TS vifi, 31. * P^alTn cxNii, 5- 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 343 

CHAPTER IV 

niAT MANY GOOD CiFTS AftE BESTOWED UPON THOSE WHO 
COMML'NICATE DEVOUTLY 

The Voice of ihe Dhciplc 

O Lord my God» prevent Thou Thy servant with (he blessings of 
Thy sweetness, that I may be enabkd lo draw near worthily and 
devoutly lo Thy glorious Sacrament. Awaken my heart towards 
Thee, and deliver me from heavy slumber. Visit me with Thy 
salvation that I may in spirit taste Thy sweetness, which plentifully 
lieih hid in this Sacr,iment as in a fountain. Lighten also mine eyes 
to behold this so great mysiery, and strengthen me thiJt I may believe 
i: with nndoubting faith. For it is Thy word, nor human power; 
ic is Thy holy institution, not the invention of man. For no man is 
found fit in himself to receive and to understand these things^ which 
transcend even the wisdom of the Angels, What portion then shall 
I, unworthy sinner, who am but dust and ashes, be able to seaich 
into and comprehend of so deep a Sacrament? 

2. O Lord» in the simplicity of my heart, in good and firm faith, 
and according lo Thy will, 1 draw nigh unto Thee with hope and 
reverence, and truly believe that Thou art here present in the Sacra- 
ment, God and man. Thou wiliest iheiefore that I receive Thee and 
unite myself to Thee in charity. Wherefore I beseech Thy mercy, 
and implore Thee lo give me Thy special grace, to this end, that I 
may be wholly dissolved and overflow with love towards Thee, ;uid 
no more suffer any other consolation to enter into me. For this 
most high and most glorious Sacrament is the health of the soul 
and the body, the medicine of all spiritual sickness, whereby I am 
healed of my sins, my passions are bridled, temptations are con- 
quered or weakened, more grace is poured into me, virtue begun is 
increased, faiih is made firm, hope is strengthened, and charily is 
enkindled and enlarged. 

3- For in this Sacrament Thou hast besiowed many good things 
and still bestowest tliem continually on Thine elect who communi- 
cate devoutly, O my God, Lifter trp of my soul, Repairer of human 
infirmity, and Giver of all inward consolation. For Thou poorest 



344 "^^^ IMITATION OF CHRIST 

into ihem much consolation against all sorts of tribulaEion^ and out 
of the deep o£ their own misery Thou liftest them up to the hope 
of Thy prorection, and with ever new grace, dost inwardly refresh 
and enlighten them; so that they who felc themselves to be anxious 
and without afleciion before Communion^ afterwards being re- 
freshed with heavenly food and drink, find themselves changed for 
[he better. And even in such wise Thou dealest severally with Thine 
elect, thjt they may trniy acknowledge and clearly make proof that 
they have nothing whatsoever of their own, and what goodness and 
grace come to tlicm from Thee; because being in themselves cold, 
hard of heart, indevout, through Thee they become fervent, zealous, 
and devout. For who is there coming humbly to the fountain of 
sweetness, carrieth not itway thence at the least some little of that 
sweetness? Or who standing by a large fire, fecleih not from thence 
a litde of its heat? And Thou art ever a full and ovcifiowing foun- 
tain, a fire continually burning, and never going out, 

4. Wherefore if it is not sutfered to me to draw from the fulness 
of the fountain, nor to drink unto satisfying, yet will i set mv lips 
to the mouth of the heavenly conduit, that at least I may receive 
a small drop to quench my thirst, that I dry not tip within my heart. 
And if I am not yet able to be altogether heavenly and so enkindled 
as the Cherubim and Serapfiim, yet will I endeavour to give myself 
unto devotion, and to prepare my he^rt, that 1 may gain if it be but 
a little flame of the divine fire, through the humble receiving of the 
life-giving Sacrament, But whatsoever is wanting unto me, O merci- 
ful Jesus, Most Holy Saviour, do Thou of Thy kindness and grace 
supply, who hast vouchsafed 10 call all unto Thee, saying, Come 
uniome,diyf;£haiar£ weary andheavyiadsn.andl will refresh you. 

5. I indeed labour in the sweat of my face, I am tormented with 
sorrow of heart, L am burdened wiEh sins, 1 am disquieted with 
temptations, 1 am entangled and oppressed with many passions, and 
there is none to help me, there is none to deliver and ease me, but 
Thou, O Lord God, my Saviour, to whom I commit myself and 
all things that are mine, that Thon maycst preserve me and lead me 
unto life eternal. 

Receive me unto the praise and glory of Thy name, who hast 
prepared Thy Body and Blood to be mji meat and drink. Grant, O 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 345 

Lord God my Sjviour, i^m with coining often to Thy mysteries the 
zeai of my devotion may increase. 

CHAPTER V 

Of THE DIGNITY OF TlilS SACEAMENT^ AND OF THE OFFlCt OV THE PRIEST 

7Af V/iice of l/ic Bdarcd 

If ihou hadst angelic purity and [he holineis of holy John che 
Baptist, thou wouldesi not be worthy to receive or lo minister rhis 
Sacrament. For this is not deserved by merit of man that a man 
should consecrate and minister the Sacrament of Christy and take 
for food the brend of Angels. Vast is ihe mystery, and great is the 
dignity of the priests, to whom is given what is not granted to 
Angels. For priests only, rightly ordained in the chnrch, have the 
povfer of consecrating and celebrating the Body of Christ. The priest 
indeed is the minister of God, using the Word of God by God's 
command and institution; nevertheless God is there the principal 
Author and invisible Worker, that to whom all that He willeth is 
subject, and all He commandeth is obedient. 

2. Therefore thou must believe God Almighty in this most excel- 
lent Sacrament, more than thine own sense or any visible sign at 
all. And tlierefore wiih fear and reverence is this work to be ap- 
proached. Take heed therefore and see what it is of which the 
ministry is committed to thee by the laying on of the Bishop's hand. 
Behold ihou art made a priest and art consecrated to celebrate- See 
now thac thou do it before God faithfully and devoudy at due 
time, and shew thyself without blame. Thou hast not lightened rby 
burden, but art now bound with a straiter bond of discipline, and 
art pledged [o a higher degree of holiness. A priest ought to be 
adorned with all virtues and to afford to others an example of good 
life. His converaarion must not be with the popular and common 
ways of men, but with Angels in Heaven or with perfect men on 
earth. 

3- A priest clad in holy garments takeih Christ's place that he 
may pray unto God with all supplication and humility for himself 
and for the whole people. He must always remember the Passion of 



34^ TH£ IMITATION OF CHRIST 

Christ, He must diligeTtily look upon Christ's fonisKps and fer-J 
venily endeavour himsplE to follow chem. He must bear meekly for 
God whatsoever ills are brought upon him by others. He must 
mourn for his own sins, and for the sins committed by others, and 
may not grow careless of pr^iyer and holy oblation, until he prevail 
to obtain grace and mercy. When the priest celebrateth, he honour- 
eth God, giveth joy to the Angels, buildeth up the Church, helpeth 
the living, hath communion with the departed, and makeih himself 
a partaker of all good things. 

CHAPTER VI 

AN INQUIRY CONCERNING PREPARATION FOE COMMUNION 

The Voics of she Disciple 

When I consider Thy dignity, O Lord, and mine own vileness, I 
tremble very exceedingly, and am confounded within myself. For 
if I appioaeh not, 1 fly from life; and if I intrude myself unworthily, 
I run into Thy displeasure. What then shall I do, O my God, Thou -^ 
helper and Counsellor in necessities, I 

2. Te^Lch Thou me the right way; propound unto me some short 
exercise befitting Holy Communion. For it is profitable to know 
how I ought to prepare my heart devoutly and reverently for Thee, 
to the intent that 1 may receive Thy Sacrament to my soul's health 
[or it may be also for the celebrating this so great and divine 
mystery]. 

CHAPTER Vir 

OF THE E^:aMINATION OF CONSCIENCE, AND PUWOSE OF AMENDMENT' 

The Voice of the Beloved 

Above all things the priest of God must draw nigh, with all hn-l 
mility of heart and supplicating reverence, with full faith and piousj 
desire for the honour of God, to celebrate, minister, and receive this] 
Sacrament. Diligently examine thy conscience and with all thy 
might with true contrition and humble confession cleanse and purify 



THE IMITATION OF CHElST 347 

it, so that thou mayest fee! no burden, nor know anything which 
bringeih thee remorse and impedcth thy free approach. Hiive dis- 
pleasure against all ihy sins in general^ and specially sorrow and 
mourn because of ihy daily Eransgressions. And it thou have Eime, 
confess unto God in the secret o£ thine heart, al! miseries of thine 
own passion. 

2, Lament grievously and be sorry, because thou art still so carnal 
and worldly, so unmoriified from ihy passions, so full of the mo- 
tion of concupiscence, so unguarded in ihine outward senses, so 
often entangled in many vain fancies, so much inclined to outward 
Lhings, so negligent o£ internal; so ready to laughter and dissolute- 
ness, so unready to weeping and contrition; so prone to ease and 
indulgence of the tlesh. so dull to zeal and fervour; so curious to 
hear novekies and behold beauties, so loth to embrace things humble 
and despised; so desirous to have many things, so grudging in giv- 
ing, so close in keeping; so inconsiderate in speaking, so reluctant 
to keep silence; so disorderly in manners, so inconsiderate in actions; 
so eager after food, so deaf towards tlie Word of God; so eager after 
rest, so slow to labour; so watchful after tales, so sleepy towards holy 
watchings; so eager for the end of them, so wandering in attention 
to them; so negligent in observing the hours of prayer^ so lukewarm 
in celebrating, so unfruitful in communicating; so quickly dis- 
tracted, so seldom quite collected with thyself; so quickly moved 
to anger, so ready for displeasure at others; so prone to judging, so 
severe at reproving; so joyful in prosperity, so weak in adversity; so 
often making many good resolutions and bringing them to so little 
effect. 

3. When thou hast confessed and bewailed these and thy other 
shortcomings, with sorrow and sore displeasure at thine own infirm- 
ity, make then a firm resolution of continual amendment of life 
and of progress in all that is good. Then moreover with full resig- 
nation and entire will olTer thyself to the honour of My name on the 
altar of thine heart as a perpetual whole biirnt-oiJering, even by 
faithfully presenting thy body and soul unto Me, to the end that 
thou mayest so be accounted worthy to draw near to offer this sacri- 
fice of praise and thanksgiving to God, and to receive the Sacra- 
ment of My Body and Blood to thy soul's health. For there is no 



' n 



348 THE IMITATION OF CllKIST 

oblaiion worihicr, no satisfaction greater for the destroying of sin, 
than that a man offer himself to God purely ,ind entirely with rhe 
□blaiion of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Communion. 
If a man shall have done what in him lieih^ and shall repent him 
irulvi then how often soever he shall draw nigh unto Me for pardon 
and grace. At I lit/£, saitfi the Lord, I have no pkasurc in the death of 
a sinner, but rather that he should be converted, and life. AH his 
iransgreisioni that he hath comrniUed, Ihey shall not be mentioned 
unto him} 

CHAPTER VIII 

OF THE OflL.\TION' OF CHKlST UPOV TEIE CROSS, A\-D OF 

RESIGNATION OF SELF 

The Voice of the Beloved 

As I of my own will offered myself unto God the Father on [he 
Cross for thy sins with outstretched hands and naked body, so that 
nothing remained in Me that did not become altogether a sacrifice 
for the Divine propitiation; so also oughtest thou every day to offer 
thyself willingly unto Me for a pure and holy oblation with all thy 
strength and affections, even to the utmost powers of thine heart. 
What more do I require of thee than thou study to resign thyself 
altogetlier unto Me? Whatsoever thou givest besides thyself, I 
nothing care for, for 1 ask not thy gift, but thee. 

2. As it would not be sufficient for ihee if thou hadst all things 
e>icepi Me, even so whatsoever thou shah give Me, if thou give Me 
not thyself, it cannot please Me. Offer thyself 10 Me, and give thy- 
self altogether for God, so shail thy offering be accepted. Behold 
1 offered Myself altogether to the Father for thee, 1 give also My 
whole body and blood for food, that thou mightest remain altogether 
Mine and 1 thine. But if thou stand in thyself, and offer not thyself 
freely to My will, thy offering is not perfect, neither shall the union 
betwixt us be complete. Therefore ought the freewill offering of 
thyself into the hands of God to go before all thy works, if thou 
wilt attain liberty and grace. For this is the cause that so few are 
inwardly enlightened and made free, that they know not how to 

'EzckJcl ^viil, 22, J.I- 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 349 

deny themselves entirely. My word standeih sure, Except a man 
jonaiis ail, he cannot be My disciple} Thou therefore, if thou wilt 
be My disciple, offer Ehyselt to Mc with all ihy aiTections, 

CHAPTER IX 

THAT WE Ot;GUr TO OtTER OURSELVES AN"D ALL THAT IS DUES TO 

COD, AND TO FBAY FOR ALL 

The Voice of the Disciple 

Lord, alt that ii in the heaven and in the earth is Thine} 1 desire 
to offer myself up unto ihee as a freewill offering, and to continue 
Thine for ever. Lord, in the uprightness of mine heart I wiliin^ly 
Q§ei^ myself to Thee to-day Lo be Thy servant for ever, in humble 
submission and for 3 sacrifice of perpetual praise. Receive me with 
this holy Communion of Thy precious Body, which I celebrate be- 
fore Thee this day in the presence of ihe Angels invisibly surround- 
ing, that it may be for the salvation of me and of all Thy people. 

2. Lord, I by before Thee at this celebration all my sins and 
offences which I have commitled before Thee and Thy holy Angels, 
from the day whereon i was first able to sin even unto this hour; 
that Thou mayest consume and burn them every one with the fire 
of Thy charity, and mayest do away all the stains of my sins, and 
cleanse my conscience from all offence, and restore me to Thy favour 
which by sinning 1 have lost, fully forgiving me all, and mercifully 
admitting me to the kiss of peace. 

3. What can 1 do concerning my sins, save humbly to confess 
and lament them and unceasingly to beseech Thy propitiation? 1 
beseech Thee, be propitious unto me and hear me, when I stand 
before Thee, O my God. AH my sins displease me grievously: 1 
will never more commit them; but 1 grieve for them and will grieve 
so long as 1 live, steadfastly purposing to repent me truly, and to 
make restitution as far as I can. Forgive, O God, forgive me my sins 
for Thy holy Name's sake; save my sonl, which Thou hast redeemed 
with Thy precious blood. Behold I commit myself to Thy mercy, 1 
resign myself to Thy hands. Deal with me according to Thy loving- 
kindness* not according to my wickedness and iniquity. 

' Liikc t'vi. 35. ^ I Chrcinklcs Y.xiyi. li. ' 1 Chtonides xsik. 17. 



350 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

4. I offer also unto Thee all my goodness, chough it is exceedingi\ 
little and imperfect, th:ii Thou maypst mend irnd sanctify it, that \ 
Thou mayest make it well pleasing and acceptable in Thy sight, and 
ever draw it on towards perfection; and furthermore bring me safely, 
slothful and u^Ie&s poor creature that I am, to ^ happy and 
blessed end. ] 

5. Moreover I oJler unto Thee all pious desires oi the devout, 
necessities of parents, friends, brothers, sisters, and ail who are dear 
to mcj and of those who have done good to me, or to others for 
Thy love; and those who have desired and besought my prayers 
for thems^elves and all belonging to rhemi that all may feel [hem- 
fielvea assisted by Thy grace, enriched by consolation, protected frotn 
dangers, freed from pains; and that being delivered from all evils 
they may joyfully give Thee e>:ceeding thanks, ^ 

6. I offer also to Thee prayers and Sacramental intercessions for 
those specially who have injured me in aught, made me sad, or 
spoken evil concerning me, or have caused me any loss or dis- 
pleasure; for all those also whom I have at any time made sad, dis- 
turbed, burdened, and scandalized, by words or deeds, knowingly or 
ignorandy; that to all of us alike, Thou mayest equally pardon our 
sins and mutual offences. Take away, O Lord, from our hearts all 
suspicion, indignation, anger, and contention, and whatsoever is able 
to injure charity and diminish brotherly love. Have mercy, have 
mercy, Lord, on those who entreat Thy mercyi give grace to the 
needy; and make us such that we may be worthy to enjoy Thy 
gracEj and go forward to the life eternal. Amen. 1 

i 

CHAPTER X 

THAT HOLV COMMUNION TS NOT LICJITLV TO BE OMITTED 

i 

The Voice of the Bdoved 

Thou must frequently betake thee to the Fountain of grace and 
divine mercy, to the Fountain of goodness and all purity; to the 
end that ihoa mayest obtain the healing of thy passions and vices, 
and mayest be made stronger and more watchful against all tempta- 
tions and wiles of the devil. The enemy, knowing what profit and 



,.i 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 351 

excpcding strong EPmedy lieth in ihe Haly Cornmunioni strivetk by 
sll Eiieiins and occasions io draw b^-ck and hinder the faithful and 
devour, so far as he can. 

X For when some sel abouE to prejjare themselves for Holy Com- 
munion, ihey suffer from the more evil suggestions of Satan. The 
very evil spirit himself (as is written, in fob), cometh among the 
sons of God ihat he may trouble them by his accustomed evil deal- 
ing, or make them over timid and perplexed; to the intent that he 
may diminish their affections, or take away their faith by his at- 
tacks, if haply he may prevail upon them lo give up Holy Com- 
munion altogether, or to come thereto with lukewarm hearts. But 
his wiles and delusions must not be heeded, howsoever wicked and 
terrible they be; but all his delusion must be cast back upon his own 
head. The wretch must be despis'ied and laughed to scorn: neither 
must Holy Communion be omitted because of his insults and the 
inward troubles which he stirreth up, 

3. Often also loo much carefulness or some anxiety or other touch- 
ing confession hindereth from obtaining devotion. Do thou accord- 
ing to the counsel of wise men, and lay aside anxiety and scruple, 
because it hindereth the grace of Gad and descroyeth devotion of 
mind. Because of some little vexation or trouble do not thou neglect 
Holy Communion, but rather hasten to confess it, and forgive freely 
all offences committed against thee. And if thou hast offended any 
man, humbly beg for pardon, and God shall freely forgive thee. 

4. WhaE proiiteth it to put oil for long time ihe confession of thy 
sins, or to defer Holy Communion? Cleanse thyself forthwith, spit 
out the poison with all speed, hasten to take the remedy, and thou 
shah feel thyself better than if thou didsL long defer it. If to-day thou 
defer it on one account, to-morrow perchance some greater obstacle 
will come, and so thou mayest be long time hindered from Com- 
munion and become more unfit. As soon as thou canst, shake thy- 
self from thy present heaviness and sloth, for it proliteth nothing 
to be long anxious, to go long on thy way with heaviness of heart, 
and because of daily little obstacles to sever thyself from divine 
things: nay it is exceeding hurtful to defer thy Communion long, 
for this commonly bringeth on great torpor, Alas! there are some, 
lukewarm and undiiciphned, who wihingly find excuses for delay- 



1 



35^ THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

ing repentance, and desire la defer Holy Communion, lest ihey 
shouEd be bound to keep stricter watch upon themselves. 

5. ALls! how little charity, what flagging devotion^ have they 
who so lighdy put off Holy Communion, How happy is he, how 
acceptable 10 God, who so liveih, and In such purity of conscience 
keepeth himself, chat any day he could be ready and well inclined 
IQ communicate, if it were in his power, and might be done with- 
out the notice of oihers. If a man sometimes abstaineth for the sake 
of humility or some sound cause, he is to be commended for his 
reverence- Bur if drowsiness have taken hold of him, he ought to 
rouse himself and to do what in him lieth; and the Lord will help 
his desire for the good will which he hath, which God specially 
approveth. 

6. But when he is hindered by sufficient cause, yet will he ever 
have a good will and pious intention to communicate; and so he 
shall not be lacking in the fruit of the Sacrament, For any devout 
man is able every day and every hour to draw near to spiritual 
communion widi Christ to his soul's health and without hindrance- 
Nevertheless on certain days and at the appointed time he ought to 
receive rhe Body and Blood of his Redeemer with affectionate rev- 
erence, and rather to seek after the praise and honour of God, than 
his own comfort. For so often doth he communicate mystically, and 
is invisibly refreshed, as he devoutly calleth to mind the mystery of 
Christ's incarnation and His Passion, and is inflamed with the love 
of Him, 

7. He who only prepareih himself when a festival is at hand or 
custom compelleih, will too often be unprepared. Blessed is he who 
offereth himself to God for a whole burnt-o3ering, so often as he 
celebrateih or communicatethf Be not too slow nor too hurried in 
thy celebrating, but preserve the good received custom of those with 
whom thou livesf. Thou oughiest not to produce weariness and 
annoyance in others, but to observe the received custom, according 
to the institution of the elders; and to minister to the profit of others 
rather than to thine own devotion or feeling. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 353 

CHAPTER XT 

THAT THE BOJ>V \^D BUJDD OF CHRIST AN'D THE HOLY SCRIPTURES 
ABE MOST NECESSAKi- TO A FAITHFUL SOUL 

The Voice of the Disciple 

O MOST sweef Lord Jesus, how great is the blessedness of 6e 
devout soul that feedeth with Thee in Thy banquet, where there 
is sec before it no oiher food than Thyself its only Beloved, more to 
be desired than all the desires oi the heart? And to me it would 
verily be sweet to pour £orih my tears in Thy presence from the very 
botLom of my heart, and with the pious Magdalene to water Thy 
feet with my tears. But where is this devotianp Where the abund- 
ant flowing of holy tears? Surely in Thy presence and in the pres- 
ence of the holy Angels my whole heart ought to burn and to weep 
for joy; for 1 have Thee in the Sacrament verily present, although 
hidden under other form. 

2. For in Thine own Divine brightness, mine eyes could not en- 
dure to behold Thee, neither could the whole world stand before the 
splendour of the glory of Thy Majesty. In this therefore Thou hast 
consideration unto my weakness, that Thou hidest Thyself under 
the Sacrament. I verity possess and adore Him whom the Angels 
adore in heaven; I yet for a while by faith, but they by sight and 
without a veil. It is good for me to be content with the light of true 
faith, and to watk therein until the day of eternal brightness dawn, 
and the shadows of figures l^ee away.^ But when that which is per- 
fect is come, the using of Sacraments shall cease, because the Blessed 
in heavenly glory have no need of Sacramental remedy. For they 
Teioice unceasingly in the presence of God, beholding His glory 
face to face, and being changsd frorti glory to ghry^ of the infinite 
God, they taste the Word of God made flesh, as He was in the 
beginning and remaineth for everlasting. 

3. When I chink on these wondrous things, even spiritual com- 
fort whatsoever it be becometh sore weariness to me; for so long as I 
see not openly my Lord in His own Glory, I count for nothing all 
which 1 behold and hear in the world. Thou, O God, art my wit- 

^Caai. ii. 17- '1 Corinihl^ins iii. 18. 



354 '^M IMITATION OF CHRIST ' 

ness (har nothing is iible to comforE mc, no creriturc is able to give 
me rest^ save Thou, O my God, Tvhom I desire to contemplate ever- 
lastingly. But [his h not possible, so long as I remain in this mortal 
stare. Therefore ought i to set myself unto great patience* aud 
submit myself unto Thee in every desire- For even Thy Saints, O 
Lord» who now rejoice with Thee in the kingdom of heiiven, waited 
for the coming of Thy glory whilst they lived here, in faith and 
great glory. What they believed, that believe 1; what they hoped, 1 
hope; whither they have attained to, thither through Thy grace 
hope I to come, I will walk meanwhile in faith, strengthened by the 
examples of the Saints. I will have also holy hooka for comfort and 
for a mirror of life, and above them all Thy most holy Body and 
Blood shall be for me a special remedy and refuge. ' 

4. For tvi'O ihiiigs do I fed to be exceedingly necessary to me iu 
this life, without which this miserable life would be intolerable to j 
me; being detained in the prison of this body, I confess that I need ' 
two things, even fond and light. Thou hast therefore given to me 
who am so weak, Thy sacred Body and Blood, for the refreshing 1 
of my soul and body, and hast set Thy Word far a laniern to my 
fect^ Without these two 1 could not properly live; for the Word 
of God is the light of my soul, and Thy Sacrament the bread of 
life. These may also be called the two tables, placed on this side and 
on that, in the treasury of Thy holy Church. One table is that of 
the Sacred Aitar, bearing the holy bread, that is the precious Body 
and Blood of Christ; the other is the table of the Divine Law, con- 
taining holy doctrine, teaching the true faith, and leading stead- 
fastly onwards even to that which is within the veil, where the Holy 
of Holies is, 

5. Thanks be unto Thee, O Lord Jesus, Light of Light everlast- 
ing, for that table of holy doctrine which Thou has furnished unto 
us by Thy servants the Prophets and Apostles and other teachers. 
Thanks be to Thee, O Creator and Redeemer of men, who to make 
known Thy love to the whole world has prepared a great supper, 
in which Thou hast set forth for good not the typical lamb, but 
Thine own mosr Holy Body and Blood; making all Thy faithful 
ones joyful with this holy banquet and giving them lo drink the 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 355 

cup of salvation^ wherein are all the ddighis of Paradise, and the 
holy Angels do feed with us» and wiih yet happier sweetness, 

6. Oh how great and honourable is the office uf ihe priests, to 
whom it is given to consGcrace the Sacrament of the Lord oE 
majesty with holy words^ to bless it with the lips, to hold it in their 
hands» to receive it with their own mouth, and to administer it to 
others! Oh how clean ought those hands to be, how pure the mouthy 
how holy the body, how unspotted the heart of the priest, to whom 
so often the Author of purity cniereth inf From the mouth of the 
priest ought n;iught to proceed but what is holy, what is honest and 
profiiahle, hecause he so often receiveth the Sacrament of Christ. 

7. His eyes ought to be single and pure* seeing they are wont to 
look upon the Body of Christ; the hands should be pure and lifted 
towards heaven^ which are wont to hold within them the Creator 
of heaven and earth. To priests is it specially said in the Law, Be 
ye holy, for I the Lord your Cod am holy^ 

3. Assist Eis with Thy grace, O Almighty God, that we who have 
taken upon us the priestly office, may he able to converse worthily 
and devoutly with Thee in all purity and good conscience. And if 
we are not able to have our conversation in such innocency of life 
as we ought, yet grant unto us worthily to lament die sins which 
we have committed, and in the spirit of humility and full purpose of 
a good will, to serve Thee more earnestly for the future. 

CHAPTER Xll 

THAT HE WI-TO IS AHOUT TO COMMUNICATE WITH CHRIST OUGHT TO 
PREPARE Hl^tSELF WITH OHEAT DH^ICENCE 

The Voice 0/ the Beloved 

I AM the Lover of purity, and Giver of sanctity. I seek a pure 
heart, and there is the place of My rest. Prepare for Me the larger 
upper room jurnished, and / tviU ^eep the Pmsover at thy house 
with my disciples} it thou wilt that 1 come unto thee and abide 
with thee, purge out the old leaven^ and cleanse the habitation of 
thy heart. Shut out the whole world, and all the throng of sins; 
*L*vi[icm \ix. ?, 'Mark civ. 14, 15. - r Cadnchlan^ v, 7, 



35^ THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

sil as a sparrow alone upon ths home-tap^ and think upon thy 
Iramgressions with bilterness of ihy souL For everyone ihai bverh 
prep;ireth the best and fairL'si phice for hjs beloved, because hereby 
the afTectJon of him thai emertaineth his beloved is known. 

1. YeC know thou that ihou cansi not make sufficient prepara- 
tion out of the merit of any action of thine, even though thou 
shouldesr prepare ihysetf for a whole year, and hadsc noihing else 
in thy mind. But out of My tenderness and grace alone art thou 
permicted to draw nigh unto My table; as though a beggar were 
called to a rich man's dinner, and had no odier recompense to ofFer 
him for [he benefits done unto him, but lo humble himself and 
to give him thanks. Do therefore as much as lieth in thee, and do 
it diligendy. not of custom, nor of necessity, but with fear, rever- 
ence, and affection, receive ihe Body o£ thy beloved Lord God, who 
vouchsafech to come unto thee. I am He who hath called thee; I 
commanded it to be done; 1 will supply whaE is lacking to thee; 
come and receive Me, 

3. When I give the grace of devotion, give thanks unto thy God; 
it is not becau&e thou art worthy, but because I had mercy on thee. 
If thou hast not devotion, but rather feclesi thyself dry, be instant 
in pr:iyer, cease not to groan and knock; cease not until thou prevail 
[0 obtain some crumb or drop of saving grace- Thou hast need of 
Me, 1 hy.ve no need of thee. Nor dost thou come to sanctify Me, 
but 1 come to sanctify thee and make thee better. Thou comest 
that thou mayesf be sanctiJied by Me, and be united to Me; that 
thou mayest receive fresh grace, and be kindled anew to amendment 
of life- See that thou neglect not this grace, but prepare thy heart 
with all diligence, and receive thy Beloved unto thee. 

4, But thou oughiest not only to prepare thyself for devotion be- 
fore Communion, thou must also keep thyself with all diligence 
therein after receiving the Sacrament; nor is less watchfulness 
needed afterwards, than devout preparation beforehand: for good 
watchfulness afterwards becometh in turn the best preparation for 
the gaining more grace. For hereby is a man made entirely indis- 
posed to good, if he immediately return from Communion to give 
himself up to outward consolations. Beware of much speaking; 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 357 

remain in a secret place, and hold communion wiih ihy Godi for 
thou hast Him whom the whole world cannot take away from [hee. 
I am He to whom ihou oughlest wholly to give thyself; so that 
now thou niaycit live not wholly in thyself, but in Mc, free from all 
anxiety. 

CHAPTER XIII 

THAT THE DEVOtJT SOVL OUKHT W[TH THE WHOLE HE\ET TO VEAEV AFTEfl 
UNION WITH CHCfsr IN" THE SACRAWEKT 

The Voice oj ihe DijcipU' 

Who shall grant unto me» O Lord, that I may find Thee alone, 
and open iiH my heart unto Thee, and enjoy Thee as much aji my 
soul desirethi and that no man may henceforth look upon me, nor 
any creature move me or have respoct unto me, but Thou alone 
speak unio me and I unto Thee, even as beloved is wont to speak 
unto beloved, and friend to feast with friend? For this do 1 pray, 
this do 1 long for, that I may be wholly united unto Thee, and may 
withdraw my heart from all creased things^ and by means of Holy 
Communion and frequent celebration may learn more and more to 
rehsh heavenly and eternal things- Ah, Lord God, when shall I be 
entirely united and lost in Thee, and ahogcther forgetful of myself? 
Thou in mt^^ and I in Thee;^ even so grant that we may in like 
manner continue together in one. 

2. Verily Thou art my Beloved, the choicest among ten thousand," 
in whom my soul delighteth to dwell all the days of her life. Verily 
Thou art my Peacemaker, in Whom is perfect peace and true rest, 
apart from Whom is labour and sorrow and infinite misery. Verily 
Thoti dri a Gad that hidest Thyself, and Thy counsel is not with 
the wicked, but Thy Word is with the humble and the simple. O 
how sweet, Lord, is Thy spirit, who that Thon mightest manifest 
Thy sweetness towards Thy children, dost vouchsafe lo refresh 
them with the bread which is full of sweetness, which cometh down 
from heaven. Verily theie is no other nation so great, which hath 
its gods drawing nigh to thetn, as Thou, our God. art present unto 
alt Thy jaithjtd ones^ unto whom for their daily solace, and for 
' John viy- 4- ' CaoL v, lo. ^ D^juieroiiomy iv. 7. 



35^ THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

lifting up fheir heart unto heaven^ Thou givest Thyself for their 
food and delight. 

3, For what other nation is ihere so renowned as the Christian 
people? Or whiH creature is so beloved tinder hcjven as rhe devout 
soul to which God entereth in, that he may feed \t with His glorious 
fleshf O unspeakable grace! O wonderful condescension! O im- 
measurable love specially bestowed upon men! liut what reward 
shall 1 give unto the Lord for this grace, for charily so mighty? 
There is nothing which 1 am able to present more acceptable than to 
give my heart altogether unto God, and to join it inwardly to 
Him. Then all my inward parts shall rejoice, when my soul shall be 
perfecdy united unto God. Then shall He say unto me, "If thou 
wilt be with Me, 1 will be with thee." And I will answer Him, 
^'Vouchsafe, O Lord, to abide with me, I will gladly be with Thee; 
fhis is my whole desire, even that my heart be united unto Thee." 

CHAPTER XIV 

OF THE FERVEKT DESIRE OF CEBTAIV DEVOUT PERSONS TO RECEIVE 
THE BODV AND BLOOD OF CHRiST 

TAf Voice of the Disciple 

O BOW great is the abundance oj Thy stveetness, O Tjird. which 
Thou hast laid tip for ih^m thai fear Thee. When 1 call to mind 
some devout persons who draw nigh to Thy Sacrament, O Lord, 
with the deepest devotion and affection^ then very often i am con- 
founded in myselt and blush for shame, that I approach Thine 
altar and table of Holy Communion so carelessly and coldly* that 1 
remain so dry and without ai^ection, that 1 am not wholly kindled 
with love before Thee, my God, nor so vehemently drawn and 
affected as many devout persons have been, who out of the very 
earnest desire o£ the Communion, and tender affection of heart, could 
not refrain from weeping, but as it were with mouth of heart and 
body alike panted inwardly after Thee, Q God, O Fountain of 
Life, having no power to appease or satiate Lheir hunger, save by 
receiving Thy Body with all joyfulness and spiritual eagerness. 

2- O truly ardent faith of those, becoming a very proof of Thy 
Sacred Presence! For they verily know their Lord /;; the brea\ing 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 359 

oj bread, whose hcarc so ardently bmncth withhi theta^ when Jesus 
walketh willi ihem by the way. Ah mel far from nie for :he most 
parr is such love and devotion as this, such vehement love and 
ardour. Be merciful unto me» O Jesus^ good, sweety and klnd» and 
grant unto Thy poor suppliant to feei sometimes, in HoTy Com- 
munion, though it be but a hiile, ihe cordiitl affection of Thy love, 
that my faiih ni^fy grow stronger, my hope in Thy goodness in- 
creiffie, and my charity, once kindled wiihin me by the tasting of the 
heavenly manna^ may never faik 

3. But Thy mercy is able even to grant me the grace which I 
long for, and to visit me most tenderly with the spirit of fervour 
when the ihy of Thy good pleasure shall come. For, ahhough 1 
burn not with desire so vehement as theirs who are specially devout 
towards Thee, yet, through Thy grace, I have a desire after that 
greatly inflamed desire, praying and desiring to be made partaker 
with all those who so fervently love Thee^ and to be numbered 
among their holy company. 

CHAPTER XV 

THAT THH ilGACE Ol' DEVOTION IS ACQUIRED BY HUMIUIY 

AND SELF-DENIAL 

The Voice oj the Beloved 

Thou oughtest to seek earnestly the grace of devotion* to ask it 
fervendy* to wait for it patiently and faithfully* to receive it grate- 
fully, to preserve it humbly, to work with it dihgendy* and to leave 
to God the time and manner of heavenly visitation until it come. 
Chiefly oughtest thou to humble thyself when thou feelesi inwardly 
little or no devotion, yet not to be too much cast down, nor to 
grieve out of measure. God ofttimcs giveih in one short moment 
what He hath long time denied; He sometimes giveth at the end 
what at the beginning of prayer He haih deferred to give. 

2. If grace were always given immediately, and were at hand at 
the wish, it would be hardly bearable to weak man. Wherefore the 
grace of devotion is to be waited for with a good hope and with 
bumble patience. Yet impute it to thyself and to thy sins when it 



T 



360 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

is not given, or when it is myiCerioLisly taken away. It is some- 
limes a smaH thing which hiiidereih and hideth grace; (if indeed 
ihat ought CO be called small and noi rsEher greai. which hindereth 
so great a good); but if thou remove this, be it small or great, and 
perfecily overcome iE, thou wilt have what ihou hast asked. 

3. For immediaidy ihat thou hast given thyself unto God with 
all rhine heart, ,'Lnd hast sought neiiher this nor that according to 
thine own will and pleasure, but hast altogether settled thyself in 
HiniT thou shak find thyself united and at peace; because nothing 
shall give thee so siveet relish and delight^ as [he good pleasure of 
the Divine wilL Whosoever therefore shall have lifted up his will 
unto God with singleness ot heart, and shall have delivered him- 
self from every inordinate love or dislike of any creared things he 
will be the most fit for receiving grace, and worthy of the gift of 
devotion. For where the Lord findeth empty vessels,' there giveth 
He His blessing. And the more perfectly a man forsaketh things 
which cannot profit^ and the more he dieth to himself, the more 
quickly doih grace come, the more plentifully doth it enter iji» and 
the higher doth it lift up the fri^e heart. 

4. Then shall he see, and flow together, and ivonder^ and his 
heart shall be enlarged within him/ because the hand of the Lord 
is with him» and he hath put himself wholly in His hand» even for 
ever, Lo, thus shall the man be blessed, that seeketh God with all 
his hearty and receiveth not his soul in vain. This man in receiving 
the Holy Eucharist obiaineth the great grace of Divine Union; 
because he hath not regard to his own devotion and comfort, but, 
above all devotion and comfort, to the glory and honour of God, 



CHAPTER XVI 

THAT W£ OIJGHT TO LAY OPEM OUR NECSSSITIES TO CHRIST AND 

TO REQUIRE His GRACE 

The Vokg of the Diidple 

O MOST sweet and loving Lord, whom ixow I devoutly desire to 
receive, Thou knowest my infirmity and ihe necessity which 1 suffer, 
in what evils and vices I lie; how often I am weighed down^ 

^2 Kinyi iv. ^isiiah Is, 5. 



^*A 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST ^6l 

tempted^ disturbed^ and defiled, I come unca Thee for remedy, I 
beseech of Thee consolation and support I speak vinto Thee who 
knowcst all things, to whom all my secrets arc open, and who alone 
art able perfectly Co comfort and help mc. Thou knowesi what good 
thing 1 most stand in need of, and how poor 1 am in virtues, 

2. Behold, 1 stand poor and naked before Thee, requiring grace, 
and imploring mercy. Refresh the hungry suppliant, kindle my 
coldness with the Jire of Thy love, illuminate my blindne.ss with the 
brightness of Thy presence. Turn thou all earrhly things into bit- 
terness for me, all grievous and contrary things into patience, all 
things worthless and created into contempl and oblivion. Lift up 
my heart unto Thee in Heaven, and suffer me noi Eo wander over 
the earth. Be Thou alone sweet unio me from ihis day forward for 
ever, because Thou alone art my meat and drink, my love and joy, 
my sweetness and my whole good, 

3, Oh that Thou wouldest altogether by Thy presence, kindle, 
consume, and transform me into Thyself; that 1 may be made one 
spirit with Thee, by the grace of inward union, and the melting of 
earnest love! Suffer me not 10 go away from Thee hungry and dry; 
but deal mercifully with me, as oftentimes Thou hast dealt won- 
drou&ly with Thy saints. What marvel if 1 should be wholly 
kindled from Thee, and in myself should utterly fail, since Thou 
aci hre always burning and never failing, love purifying the heart 
and enlightening the understanding, 

CHAPTER XVJI 

OF FERVENT LO\'X AND VEHEMENT DESTHE OF liECEIV[\'G CHRIST 

T^e Voice of the Disciple 

With the deepest devotion and fctvcni love, with all adectfoo 
and fervour of heart, I long to receive Thee, O Lord, even as many 
Saints and devout persons have desired Thee in communicating, 
who were altogether well pleasing to Thee by their sanctity of life, 
and dwell in all ardent devotion. O my God, Eternal Love, my 
whole Good, Happiness without measure, 1 long to receive Thee 
with the most vehement desire and becoming reverence which any 
Saint ever had or could have. 



ft 



362 THE IMITATrON OF CHUIST 

2. And ^"lEhough I be unworthy to have all those feelings of devo- 
tion, yet do I offer Thee iJie whole alTection of my heart, even as 
though I alone had all those most grateful inflamed desires. Yea, 
also, whatsoever things a pious mind is able to conceive and long 
for» all these with the deepest veneration and inward fervour do 1 
ofTer and present unto Thee. I desire to reserve nothing unto my- 
self» but freely and entirely to offer myself and all that 1 have unto 
Thee for a sacrifice. O Lord my Godt my Creator and Redeemer! 
with such atTeetion* reverence, praise, and honour, with such grati- 
tudej worrhinessi and love, with such faith, hope, and purity do I 
desire to receive Thee this day, as Thy most blessed Mother, [he \ 
glorious Virgin Mary, received and de;iired Thee, when she humbly 
and devoutly answered the Angel who brought unto her tlie glad 
tidings of the mystery of the Incarnation. Behold the handmaid of , 
the Lord; be h unto me accoyding to thy word} J 

3. And as Thy blessed forerunner, the most excellent of Saints, ' 
John Baptist^ being full of joy in Thy presence, leapt while yet in ■ 
[he womb of his mother, for joy in the Holy Ghost; and afterwards 
discerning Jesus walking amongsr men, humbled himself exceed- 
ingly, and said, with devout affection^ The friend of the hridegroorn, 
ifho standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the 
bridegroom's voice'^ even so 1 wish to be inflamed with great and 
holy desires^ and to present myself unfo Thee with my whole heart. 
Whence also, on behalf of myself and of all commended Lo me in 
prayer, I offer and present unto Thee (he jubiiation of all devout 
heariSj their ardent affections, their mental ecstasies, and super- 
natural illuminations and heavenly visions, with all the virtues and 
praises celebrated and to be celebrated by every creature in heaven 
and earth; to the end that by all Thou mayest worthily be praised 
and glorified for ever. 

4. Receive my prayers, O Lord my God, and my desires of giving 
Thee infinite praise and unbounded benediction, which, according! 
to the multitude of Thine unspeakable greatness, are most justly'^ 
due unto Thee, These do I give Thee, and desire to give every day' 
and very moment; and with beseechings and affectionate desires I: 

*I_uko i. 38, 'John iii. 29. 



hi 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 363 

call upon all celescial spirits and all Thy faithful people to join with 
me in rendering Thee rhanks and praises. 

5. Let all peoples* nations, and tongues praise Thee* and magnify 
Thy holy and sweet-munding Ncime, with highest jubilations and 
ardent devotion. And let all who reverently and devoutly celebrate 
Thy most high Sacrament, and receive it with full assurance of 
faith* be accounted worthy to find grace and mercy with Thee, and 
intercede with all supplication for me a sinner; and when they shall 
have attained unto their wi^hed-for devotion and joyous union with 
Thee, and shall depart full of comfort and wondrously refreshed 
from Thy holy, heavenly table, let chem vouchsafe to be mindful 
of me, for I am poor and needy. 

CHAPTER XVm 

THAT A MAf." SHOULD N'OT BE A CURIOUS SEARCHER OF THE SACRAMENT, 

BUT A HUMULE IMITATOR OF ClIBIST, SUSMnTlNG HIS 

SENSE TO HOLY FAtTH 

Tfif Voice of ihe Bdoved 

Thou must take heed of curious and useless searching into this 
most profound Sacrament, if thou wift not be plunged into rhe abyss 
of doubt. He that is a starchcr of Majcsiy shall bs oppressed by the 
glory thereof} God is able to do more than man can understand. A 
pious and humble search after truth is to be allowed, when it is 
always ready to be taught, and striving to walk after the wholesome 
opinions of the fathers. 

2. Blessed is the simplicity which leaveth alone the dilJicuJi paths 
of questionings, and foUoweih the plain and firm steps oi God's 
commandments. Many have lost devotion whilst they sought to 
search into deeper things. Faith is required of thee, and a sincere 
life, not lofliness of intellect, nor deepness in the mysteries of God. 
If thou nnderstandes: not nor comprehendest the things which are 
beneath thee, how shalt thou comprehend chose which are above 
thee? Submit thyself unto God, and humble thy sense to faith, and 
the light of knowledge shall be given thee, as shall be profitable and 
necessary unto thee. 'Provcrlft x>:v- 57 (Vulj^.), 



364 THE IMITATION OF CHEIST 

3, There are some who are grievously tempted concerning Eaith 
and the Sacrament; but this is not to be imputed to themselves but 
rather to the enemy. Care not then for this, dispute not with thine 
own thoughts, nor make answer to the doubts which are casE into 
ihee by the devil; hue believe the words of God, beheve His Saints 
and Prophets, and the wicked enemy shall des from thee. Often ic 
profiteth much, that the setvant of God endurech such things. For 
the enemy tempteih not unbelievers and sinners, because he already 
hath secure possession of ihem; but he tempteth and harasseth the 
faithful and devout by various means- 

4, Go forward therefore wiih simple and undoubting faith, and 
draw nigh unto the Sacrament with supplicating reverence. And 
whatsoever thou art not enabled to understand, that commit without 
anxiety to Almighty God, God deceiveth thee not; he is deceived 
who belicveth too much in himself, God walkeih with the simple, 
revealetb Himself to the humble, giveth understanding to babes, 
openeth the sense to pure minds, and hidech grace from the curious 
and proud. Human reason is weak and may be deceived; but true 
faith cannot be deceived, 

5, All reason and natural investigation ought to follow faith, not 
to precede, nor to break it. For faith and love do here especially 
take the highest place, and work in hidden ways in this most holy 
and exceeding excellent Sacrament. God who is eternal and incom- 
prehensible, and of infinite power, doth great and inscrutable things 
in heaven and in earth, and His wonderful works are past finding 
out. If the works of God were of such sort that they might easily be 
comprehended by human reason, they should no longer be called 
wonderful or unspeakable. 




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